JACKSONVILLE FL—As part of its plan to accept an invitation to join the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC), Edward Waters College has announced the launch of a competitive men’s volleyball program. This 2021-2022 initiative will be supported in part by a $100,000 grant from First Point Volleyball Foundation and USA Volleyball.
The new Edward Waters men’s volleyball program is part of a national effort to bring the sport to Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Last year six HBCUs announced the addition of men’s volleyball via a $1 million grant from First Point and USA Volleyball to the SIAC. Edward Waters upon its anticipated transition from NAIA to NCAA DII later this school year, expects to compete in the SIAC Conference in its inaugural men’s volleyball season in 2021-2022.
In July 2019 Edward Waters College was extended an invitation to join the SIAC in July of 2019. EWC is currently a member of the NAIA and competes in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference. The Tigers do compete as an independent in football and have a scheduling agreement to compete against SIAC schools this year. The SIAC is an NCAA Division II conference and is comprised of historically black colleges and universities, with all but one of its members located in the southeast. EWC was a member of the SIAC from 1930 to 1935.
Volleyball is the fastest growing team sport in the United States for high school boys, growing at 21 per cent over the last five years and 29% over the last ten years. Men’s NCAA volleyball has also grown by 79% over the last ten years. The growth in the sport among HBCUs is being funded in part by a generous investment. First Point Volleyball Foundation and USA Volleyball recently donated $1 million—$600,000 from First Point and $400,000 from USA Volleyball— to the SIAC Conference to encourage the development of new intercollegiate programs nationally. Edward Waters College portion of this initiative is $100,000.
Edward Waters will be conducting a national search for a head coach.
“We are so pleased to make a gift to Edward Waters College athletics. President Faison and Director Bryant are committed to providing more opportunities for young people to mature and develop through athletics. That is the kind of mission we are proud to support,” said First Point Volleyball Foundation CEO Wade Garard, a co-founder of the organization. “We are impressed with the upward momentum visible within the EWC athletics community with the football stadium, new turf field and improvements to the Adams-Jenkins Gymnasium.
“USA Volleyball is proud to be supporting this SIAC initiative to bring men’s varsity volleyball programs to more HBCU. As the National Governing Body for volleyball, we strive to increase the diversity and inclusion in our sport,” said CEO of USA Volleyball Jamie Davis. “I applaud the leadership and vision being shown by Commissioner Moore and all President Faison which will surely increase the participation of African American men playing volleyball and lead to new athletic and academic opportunities for young boys. This program will serve as a new ‘Path to the Podium’ for these men to potentially join our national teams and represent Team USA across the globe.”