Just as I had speculated in past Olympics sports posts, Cal has now increased the number of sponsored sports from 29 to 30 with the newest addition being Sand Volleyball. It is called "Sand Volleyball" rather than "Beach Volleyball" to appease to the middle of the country where they do not have beaches, but it is the same sports played with a pair of player on a sand court.
From the official press release on CalBears.com:
Nearly 40 Division I institutions now sponsor sand volleyball, and Cal becomes the seventh Pac-12 team to add the program, joining Stanford, USC, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State and Oregon.
Once the total of institutions offering the sport reaches 40, which is expected to happen this spring, the NCAA will start planning to transition sand volleyball from an emerging sport to a championship sport and host an annual national championship. In the NCAA's most recent participation survey, sand volleyball is the fastest-growing sport in Division I intercollegiate athletics.
The addition of sand volleyball allows the University to continue to meet its Title IX obligations through Prong III by fully and effectively accommodating the interests and abilities of the underrepresented gender on campus.
University of Washington has also made the announcement that they have added Sand Volleyball to their program this afternoon (I suspect all the Pac-12 schools will offer both volleyball and sand volleyball).
There is already a plan for competition in this spring (so this has been in the works for awhile). Cal Volleyball coach Rich Feller will also run the Sand Volleyball program with the current staff.
Cal Athletics will also be able to sponsor sand volleyball at a minimal cost. The team will be overseen by the current staff of Cal's indoor team, so there will be no need to hire new paid coaches at this time. Travel costs will be minimized because most of Cal's regular-season opponents are located in Northern California. In addition to Stanford and Cal, Pacific, Santa Clara, USF, Saint Mary's, Sacramento State and San Jose State have recently added sand volleyball and they have formed a Northern California Consortium for local matches.
More about money ($$$):
Adding sand volleyball will increase contributions to Cal from the NCAA Sports Sponsorship Fund, which encourages institutions to sponsor and support nonrevenue sports and will more than offset the program's initial operating costs.
Here is a quote from Sandy:
"We are excited to add sand volleyball as our 30th varsity sport," Cal Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour said. "Sand volleyball is the fastest growing sports in Division I athletics, and the program will add to the diverse and comprehensive athletic department we already have, mirroring the opportunities available throughout campus. We are fully committed to sand volleyball competing with the very best programs in the nation."
and a quote from Coach Feller:
"I'm excited to oversee our new sand volleyball program," Cal coach Rich Feller said. "It's the fastest-growing sport in Division I athletics and our coaching staff and players are happy to be part of it. We will run the program with the same commitment, dedication and vision that we have with our indoor team for the past 15 years, and look forward to competing with the programs in the country."
The team will play on the courts right by Clark Kerr where players have already trained for Sand Volleyball since last spring. The initial team will also come from a subset of the current Cal Volleyball players. The first match is scheduled for March:
The 2014 season kicks off on March 9 when the Bears visit Pacific. Cal's first home match will be March 14 against San Jose State. The Bears will play seven dual matches and participate in two tournaments during the season. The competition format features five doubles matches per event, and each match consists of a best 2-out-of-3 sets.
Sand Volleyball is an exciting new but still somewhat expected addition to the Cal Athletics family. I had suspected that Cal would add Sand Volleyball given how top volleyball recruits would want to play both indoor and sand volleyball and how Cal would be at a great disadvantage compares to other Pac-12 schools that have already formally announced the program.
With the addition of Sand Volleyball, Cal now have 16 women's sports and 14 men's sports.
There is also now a FAQ page (in pdf format).
There is clarification on the format:
What is the format for competition?
The Bears will play a minimum of eight matches per season.
Most will be dual matches against a single opponent while there also will be some multi-school
matches featuring more than two institutions. All matches are played in doubles in a best-of-three
set format. The first two sets are scored to 21. Third sets go to 15. Each school fields five doubles
teams, with the first institution to win three matches getting the overall victory.
With 5 doubles team, they would need at least 10 players on the team. Apparently, Cal is planning to have around 12 players. There are about 16-17 players on the indoor team.