Northern Kentucky to start men’s volleyball program in 2026

Photo by Vinnie Lopes

Men’s volleyball is coming to Northern Kentucky University.

Northern Kentucky announced Wednesday that it will add a men’s volleyball program starting in 2026.

This is the first NCAA Division I college in the Midwest to begin a men’s volleyball team since 1996. Northern Kentucky also will be the third school from Kentucky in the last five years to start a NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball team.


Men’s volleyball will be one of six new Northern Kentucky teams. The Norse expanded its athletics department to 22 teams with the additions of men’s and women’s swimming, men’s and women’s triathlon and women’s triathlon.

“We are thrilled to introduce new sports to our athletic program,” Northern Kentucky President Cady Short-Thompson said in a statement. “This decision reflects our commitment to supporting the holistic development of our students, shaping character, instilling discipline and building lifelong skills that extend well beyond the field, pool, or court. As the best value in the state, NKU is dedicated to providing an exceptional, well-rounded education for our students while offering a thriving athletic experience.”

Northern Kentucky is located in Highland Heights, Kentucky, and has an enrollment of about 16,000 students.

The university is projected to add 250 more students by the 2026-27 school year with the addition of these six teams.

“This is the first move in a multi-pronged enrollment strategy,” Northern Kentucky Board Chair Rich Boehne said in a statement. “It will improve the lives of even more students and support the university financially as well. It’s a win-win.”

Men’s volleyball will be the one of two Norse volleyball programs. The Northern Kentucky women’s volleyball team competes in the Horizon League and has three seasons with at least 20 wins since the university transitioned to NCAA Division I in 2012.