Another NCAA Division II college from the Midwest will sponsor men’s volleyball.
McKendree University announced Tuesday that it will sponsor men’s volleyball as a varsity sport and field a team in time for the 2014 season.
McKendree athletics director Chuck Brueggemann said in a statement released Tuesday that increased popularity in men’s volleyball at the high school level was the main reason for the school to add men’s volleyball.
“The timing for McKendree to add men’s volleyball as our newest sport could not be better,” Brueggemann said. “We feel that there is great potential for growth in this sport, and we want to capitalize on the great student-athletes within the area.”
Along with starting a program, Brueggemann said, McKendree intends to offer men’s volleyball scholarships.
McKendree, located in Lebanon, Ill., will be the fourth NCAA Division I-II college from Illinois to have a men’s volleyball team. Illinois will now have the most NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball teams of any state besides California.
Illinois is one of the few states in the nation to sponsor men’s volleyball as a high school sport.
Men’s volleyball will be the 22nd intercollegiate sport sponsored by McKendree. The Division II school is a member of the Great Lakes Valley Conference — the same conference as Lewis and Quincy.
Despite being in the same conference with Lewis and Quincy for other sports, McKendree as of now plans to compete as an independent instead of joining the MIVA for its inaugural 2014 season.
The school also announced Tuesday that McKendree women’s volleyball assistant coach Nickie Sanlin will serve as the men’s volleyball head coach.
Sanlin is the second female to be named a head coach of an NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball team in recent history. Bellmont Abbey last year hired Mary DeJute to be the program’s inaugural head coach.
Before joining the McKendree women’s volleyball last season, Sanlin coached the boys volleyball team at Althoff Catholic High School and was a member of the Illinois High School Association for boys volleyball.
Sanlin while in college was a three-year starter for Marshall and as a second-team all-conference selection her senior year helped lead the Thundering Herd to the Conference USA championship in 2005.
“There are not many opportunities for boys to play volleyball at the collegiate level,” Sanlin said in a statement released Tuesday. “There is a great deal of talent – both in the St. Louis area and in the Metro-East – and we want to take advantage of that. I know we can build a talented, competitive team. At McKendree, we offer a quality education, and in the process offer prospective men’s volleyball student-athletes a chance to compete at a high level.”