Beach Volleyball could be another successful niche sports program for Arkansas State.
On Wednesday, the Sun Belt announced it will add Beach Volleyball as its 19th sponsored sport, beginning with the 2023 season. Joining Sun Belt programs already fielding (beaching) a program ( Coastal Carolina, Georgia State, ULM and Southern Miss) are the College of Charleston, Mercer, Stephen F. Austin and UNCW.
“We are pleased and excited to welcome Beach Volleyball as our 19th championship sport,” announced SBC Commissioner Keith Gill. “As the fastest growing collegiate sport, particularly within the footprint of the Sun Belt, it is a perfect fit for our conference. We’re looking forward to providing an elite competitive and championship environment for the student-athletes, coaches and fans of Sun Belt Beach Volleyball.”
Should Arkansas State locate its swim trunks and join the fray?
Beach Volleyball is fun to watch. It’s fast paced. It’s easy to follow. It’s played by two-member teams that are easily branded and packaged as stars. It seems to me that such a program could only behoove Arkansas State.
What’s the Cost?
According to a 2019 report, total costs to fully fund a Beach Volleyball program “with staff and scholarships” is about $400,000 – $450,000. I don’t think that includes initial infrastructure costs, but surely we could push the engineering department to build a sand pit and net on campus.
I’m guessing the annual cost of a Beach Volleyball program would be roughly half a million dollars. By comparison, an FBS football program costs on averages about $22M.
What’s the Benefit?
Think of A-State Beach Volleyball as a sunnier version of A-State Bowling, but outdoors and with fast-paced action. Sun Belt programs are not without success in this sport – Georgia State is a two-time NCAA Championship participant (2016, 2022). The Sun Belt already has a legitimate footprint in the sand.
Secondly, more NCAA sports for women is simply owed to Arkansas State students, who have pined for a women’s softball program for years.
Thirdly, as Commissioner Gill said in his press release, beach volleyball is the fastest growing collegiate sport. Let’s get in on this while the sun is still hot.
I’ve currently reach out to the Arkansas State Athletics Department for comment on whether or not a program is being considered. I’ll let you know.