UNCW will become the first NCAA Division I institution in North Carolina to offer beach volleyball when one of the NCAA’s fastest-growing sports makes its debut in the 2015-16 season.
The Seahawks join more than 50 schools that sponsor the program, which plays its traditional season in the spring. UNCW joins the College of Charleston in South Carolina as schools in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) with the sport.
“Beach volleyball becomes more and more popular each year and we think it will be a big hit here,” said Jimmy Bass, UNCW’s fifth-year athletic director. “Amy (Bambenek) and her staff have done a wonderful job with our indoor program and beach volleyball will complement our existing program well.
“Our location is a natural for the sport and we look forward to seeing beach volleyball grow and succeed in the years to come.”
The addition of beach volleyball will give UNCW 19 sports and represents the newest addition to the school’s athletic portfolio since women’s soccer came on board in 1994.
“Beach volleyball has been around a long time but has gained more momentum ever since its inception as an Olympic sport and now as a collegiate sport,” said UNCW Head Coach Amy Bambenek. “The support and growth of the sport is gaining momentum across the country and I am very excited that UNCW will be a part of this new era in women’s volleyball.”
Beach volleyball was approved as an NCAA Championship sport in October 2014 and will conduct its first national championship next spring.
Jacksonville State and Texas A&M Corpus Christi added the sport last spring and kick off their inaugural seasons with the Seahawks next spring. Other programs in the southeast with beach volleyball include Florida Atlantic, Florida Gulf Coast, Florida International, Florida State, Georgia State, Jacksonville, Mercer, North Florida, South Carolina and Stetson.
The 2016 schedule will be announced at a later date.