The Southland Conference announced a new addition to its sponsored sports on Wednesday.
Nine beach volleyball programs will begin competing under the championship oversight of the Southland Conference in 2020, with the league adding its first new sport in nearly 20 years.
The last time the Southland added a fully-sponsored sport was during the 2001-02 school year, when women’s golf was first included in the league’s championships.
“With the continuing growth of beach volleyball across the NCAA, the Southland is excited to expand its sports sponsorship to provide student-athletes with a championship opportunity,” Southland Commissioner Tom Burnett said.
Abilene Christian, Central Arkansas, Houston Baptist, New Orleans, Nicholls, Sam Houston State, Southeastern Louisiana, Stephen F. Austin and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi currently sponsor NCAA beach volleyball. The Bearkats, Southeastern Louisiana and SFA will begin their first competitive seasons in 2020.
While there is no assigned regular-season conference schedule, the nine teams will participate in the inaugural Southland Beach Volleyball Championship. The event is scheduled for April 17-19 at the Islanders Beach Volleyball Courts in Corpus Christi.
The league champion will be decided through an eight-team double-elimination event. There will be a single-elimination play-in match between the No. 8 and No. 9 seeds, as well as a single-elimination championship match.
Houston Baptist is set to play host to the 2021 Southland Beach Volleyball Championship.
Beach volleyball made its official NCAA championships debut in 2012, and had 75 teams competing nationally at the conclusion of last season. Southern California won the 2019 NCAA championship.