Division II and Division III approved sand volleyball as a championship Saturday at the 2015 NCAA Convention, allowing it to advance from the emerging sports for women list to become a full-fledged NCAA championship in spring 2016.
Sand volleyball, which was approved to become a championship by Division I in October, will be the 90th NCAA championship.
The NCAA emerging sports for women program was developed in the mid-1990s when the NCAA Gender Equity Task Force recommended identifying sports that have the potential to grow participation opportunities for women and are of interest to NCAA schools and their communities. The ultimate goal is for the identified sports to become NCAA championship sports.
Sand volleyball is the fastest-growing NCAA sport with 50 schools sponsoring it as of January 2015. NCAA rules require 40 sponsoring institutions to request an NCAA championship. Data shows that on average, 60 percent of participants at a sponsoring school participate only in sand volleyball, not in both sand and indoor volleyball.
Schools are allowed to use emerging sports to help meet minimum sports-sponsorship requirements. Division I and Division II schools can use emerging sports to meet minimum financial-aid requirements as well. Women’s ice hockey, women’s bowling, women’s water polo and women’s rowing are examples of sports that successfully achieved championship status after starting out as emerging sports.