In 2012, the NCAA sanctioned Beach Volleyball as a collegiate sport for women at a select number of schools. Today, there are over 40 schools that offer Beach Volleyball at the Division 1 level for women. This year, the team of Kirby Burnham and Sara Hughes took home the championship for the University of Southern California. With schools with rich histories, such as: USC, University of South Carolina, Florida State University, University of Oregon, University of Nebraska and many more involved, would there be enough support for men’s competition as well?
The issue isn’t just as easy as getting a committee to agree that it should become a Division 1 sport. There’s also Title IX regulations that have to be followed whenever a new male or female sport is going to be introduced.
Currently, men are offered 17 different Division 1 sports to participate in while women are offered 21. Despite the disparity, the offerings are equitable, as men’s football receives far more money and scholarships than any other sport. But taking a look into the future landscape of collegiate sports shows there may be a chance for Men’s Beach Volleyball to emerge.
As of now, there are over 240 schools that have football programs at the FBS or FCS level. With more and more talk of potential super conferences, smaller schools may get left out of the TV deals, meaning less interest in the school’s team as well. Smaller schools rely on bigger programs from the ACC, SEC, Big 10, Big 12, Big East and PAC-12 to more or less subsidize their teams. Ever wonder why Alabama plays at home game against Western Carolina? Alabama has to pay those smaller schools up to a million dollars to come play.
Without the necessary funding provided by the larger schools, football programs, which are the most expensive around, will no longer be viewed as viable. More cost efficient sports (Beach Volleyball anyone?) will have a chance to emerge.
In addition to these factors, there are currently various lawsuits aimed at the NCAA, in particular College Football, over talk of player’s likeness and image being used and if they should be paid or not. If any sort of ruling comes out in favor of paying college football players, you’ll see a large amount of smaller universities being forced to drop football programs.
The market for collegiate men’s beach volleyball is very real. And with the visibility brought to the sport by the Women’s game being sanctioned as Division 1, more people will be aware of the sport at the college level than ever before. There are various factors that could pave the way for Men’s beach volleyball to emerge, but it will take time and a motivated effort to get the sport into as many schools as possible.