Women's collegiate sand volleyball got a couple of big name additions with the announcement last week that the University of Nebraska will field a squad this season. Just yesterday, the University of Arizona announced that it will do the same. The adds take the sport one step closer to the magic number - it needs 40 participating programs to have an official NCAA championship. Sand volleyball has over 20 schools and counting for the upcoming 2013 season, only its second year of existence.
Nebraska announced the addition of the sand program last week and the team has already begun practicing for the season that will start in March. Sand volleyball is the first program that Nebraska has added since 1998.
Current Nebraska indoor head coach John Cook will coach the sand team as well. Nebraska will not offer scholarships yet and will use members of the indoor team to make up the sand team instead of opening it up to all students. Cook says the program won't add much to the budget since as an emerging sport it will receive $30,000 from the NCAA. The university already has a sand court that the indoor team sometimes uses for training, so no building is necessary. Also, a training trip that was already budgeted for the indoor team in the spring will now be used for the sand squad.
It sounds like Nebraska wants to see if this sport will take off before they invest too much into it. They also want to be able to offer it to recruits who Cook says always ask him about sand opportunities.
Arizona, on the other hand, seems to be all in immediately. They say they will offer six full scholarships that they will split among as many as 15 athletes and the program will cost roughly $200,000 per year. Arizona is planning to build a home facility but until then the sand team will play at the Tuscon Racquet and Fitness Club.
UA will be the fifth Pac-12 school with a sand program, the conference needs six to call it a league. They should have that number very soon. Nebraska is the first team in the Midwest to add a sand program. But with its volleyball following and fan base (attendance for indoor matches is second only to Hawaii) it is hard to believe they wouldn't be able to pull this off.
Sand volleyball season two is getting more and more interesting by the minute.