April 22, 2009


By Michelle Brutlag Hosick 
The NCAA News 

The Division I Legislative Council added sand volleyball to the list of emerging sports for women, clearing the way for schools to use the sport toward minimum sponsorship requirements and minimum financial aid awards.

The sport is expected to create additional athletics opportunities for female student-athletes, though some administrators and coaches worry that it may simply provide additional opportunities for current indoor volleyball players.

Division II approved sand volleyball as an emerging sport at the January Convention, though delegates delayed the addition of the sport until August 2010 to allow further development of rules regarding the length of the playing and practice season, financial aid limits, uniforms and the number of participants per team, among other factors. The Division I proposal, which will be considered adopted at the close of the Division I Board of Directors meeting  April 30, also takes effect in August 2010.

The Legislative Council initially considered the proposal in January, though members voted to seek membership comment after questioning the logistics of the sport in colder climates and wondering about rules development.

The Championships/Sports Management Cabinet opposed the legislation because of uncertainty about playing and practice seasons and financial aid, but the Administration Cabinet supported the proposal.

The NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics originally recommended the addition of sand volleyball based on data from a 2007 report by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association citing more than 200,000 participants, nearly 35,000 under the age of 18. The same study showed that sand volleyball participation increased by 35 percent since 2006, compared with only a 2.3 percent increase in the indoor game. About half of Division I institutions have sand volleyball courts for recreational use, and sand volleyball has been an Olympic sport since 1996.

An emerging sport needs 40 sponsoring institutions to be eligible for NCAA championship status.