A $1 million grant is enabling six Historically Black Colleges and Universities that are all from the same NCAA Division II conference to launch men’s volleyball programs.
The First Point Volleyball Foundation and USA Volleyball announced Tuesday that they will present a grant to Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in support of Kentucky State, Central State, Benedict College, Paine College, Morehouse College and Fort Valley State all adding men’s volleyball programs.
This is the largest grant awarded in the history of the First Point Volleyball Foundation, an organization previously known as MotorMVB and committed to the growth of men’s volleyball throughout the United States.
First Point Volleyball Foundation will fund $600,000 of the record-setting grant, while USA Volleyball will contribute $400,000.
With this grant, the SIAC starting in the 2021 season will become the sixth conference in the nation to sponsor NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball. It also will be the third multi-sport conference and the first predominantly HBCU conference to sponsor the sport.
“I am convinced that the impact of this gift will not only be felt on the campuses of those participating SIAC member colleges and universities, but this gift could also serve as a catalyst for increasing African American participation in men’s volleyball throughout the United States,” SIAC Commissioner Greg Moore said in a statement. “Moreover, as the one of the most popular sports internationally – particularly in Sub Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, HBCU sponsorship of men’s volleyball will also create international recruitment opportunities for SIAC member institutions. Finally, much credit must be accorded to the presidents and athletic directors of all of the participating SIAC member institutions for collectively working together to embrace this historic opportunity.”
The SIAC is the second oldest HBCU athletic conference in the nation and is comprised of 14 schools throughout Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, South Carolina and Tennessee. Men’s volleyball will be the 14th sport, and eighth men’s sport, that the SIAC sponsors.
The new men’s volleyball conference at six teams meets the NCAA requirement to receive an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.
The NCAA typically requires a two-year waiting period before awarding an automatic bid to a conference’s that adds a new sport. However, the NCAA has granted waivers in the past to some conferences, such as the Big West that started sponsoring men’s volleyball for the 2018 season.
The addition of six teams is the largest expansion of the sport in the recent history of college men’s volleyball. The new schools also will expand the NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball footprint throughout the Southeast.
Kentucky State will be the first NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball team in the state. In addition, Emmanuel was the only NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball team in Georgia before the additions of Paine, Morehouse and Fort Valley State.
“We talk at USA Volleyball about the Path to the Podium. It is not outlandish to think that a young man playing in the SIAC conference in 2021 could be an Olympian in 2028 or 2032,” John Speraw, UCLA and U.S. head coach along with being a founder of First Point Volleyball Foundation, said in a statement “Our work at First Point Volleyball Foundation is providing more opportunities for young people and it is also building our pipeline for more success at the international level for Team USA for decades to come.”
All six SIAC teams as part of this grant will receive $150,000 over a three-year span.
Each school will hold a news conference this week announcing the addition of a men’s volleyball program beginning with Kentucky State and Central State on Tuesday.