One of the top NAIA programs is making the transition to NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball.
Menlo College announced Tuesday that its athletics department will begin the process of applying to be a NCAA Division II member.
The institutional move follows the Oaks men’s volleyball team opening the 2022 season at 10-0 and ending at No. 13 in the NAIA national rankings. The team also finished the abbreviated 2020 season at 17-1 and No. 3 in the national rankings.
Menlo’s transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II will officially begin in February when the school submits its membership application to the NCAA. The school during the multiple year transition process will still compete in the NAIA before potentially joining the NCAA Division II conference the PacWest starting in the 2024-25 school year.
“Our top priority in all this is the health and welfare of our student-athletes,” Vice President for Athletics Keith Spataro said in a statement. “The senior leadership looked at the ever-changing landscape both within our current conference and college athletics as a whole. With this review it became clear that we needed to strategically align ourselves to more regional competition to decrease travel and missed class time, while also providing the best competitive environment for our entire community. We believe association with the NCAA and the PacWest checks all of those boxes.”
Menlo is a private college located in Atherton, California with an enrollment of less than 1,000 students. In addition, the athletics department fields 18 varsity programs.
The Oaks will be the fourth NAIA men’s volleyball program from California to transition to the NCAA in the last 10 years.
Menlo will still compete in the NAIA next season but will have multiple opportunities to play NCAA Division I-II programs.
The team will travel to play UC San Diego in its first road match of the season on Jan. 18. It also will continue the in-state NCAA road trip with matches against Concordia-Irvine on Jan. 19 and CSUN on Jan. 20.
Menlo was 0-2 against NCAA Division I-II teams last year with road losses to Stanford and USC.