EIVA commissioner requests group delays any recommendations to NCAA Tournament

Photo by Fabiana Huffaker

The EIVA would like the NCAA to wait two more years before considering any changes to the Division I-II men’s volleyball NCAA Tournament.

Commissioner Russ Yurk in a letter to the Championships Finance Review Working Group requested it postpone making recommendations to change the national championship format until the end of the 2022 season because of the expected growth of the sport.

The working group earlier this summer submitted to the Division I Council an initial proposal that would reformat NCAA championship events to reduce future costs. Among the numerous recommendations for various championship events included reducing the bracket size for Division I-II NCAA Tournament from seven to four teams.

Off the Block obtained this EIVA letter that was submitted as part of the feedback men’s volleyball conferences and organizations provided the working group. The working group after releasing its proposal requested organizations and conferences provide feedback by July 10.

Eight new schools are slated to add NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball teams by the end of the 2022 season.

This expansion will result in the NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball having more than 50 teams. One of the reasons the working group proposed men’s volleyball NCAA Tournament contraction was because at the time of the initial proposal there were about 40 teams.

The working group in its proposal recommended that sports with more than 50 teams have NCAA Tournament brackets that are about 20 percent of all teams. In addition, sports with less than 50 teams are recommended to have their tournament size at about 10 percent.

Per the working group’s formula, 20 percent of the projected men’s volleyball teams by 2022 would result in the NCAA Tournament expanding to 10 teams.

Along with the team expansion, there will be an additional men’s volleyball conference by 2022. The SIAC will become the sixth NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball conference and the third multi-sport conference to sponsor the sport.

Yurk stated in the letter all eligible conferences should continue to receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. If the NCAA Tournament was reduced to four teams, not every conference champion would receive a tournament berth.

“For the health of men’s volleyball within the NCAA, it’s imperative that bracket access is
maintained by all eligible conferences and not limited to those from multi-sport conferences,” the commissioner stated. “The recently concluded season was the 50th for the EIVA which demonstrates the commitment to those NCAA members that sponsor the sport and to the game itself. All student-athletes should be provided the same opportunity regardless of conference affiliation.”

The EIVA is the second oldest conference in college men’s volleyball and has twice won the NCAA championship. In addition, the East Coast conference will expand to nine teams in 2022 with the addition of St. Francis Brooklyn, which played its inaugural season in 2020.

The group will make revisions based on feedback before it is slated in October to submit the proposal to the Division I Council and the various sports committees. The proposal will then be considered by some of the top committees in NCAA before a scheduled vote for final approval in April 2021.