ATLANTA, Ga. - Morehouse College President David A. Thomas and Interim Director of Athletics Jay Edwards on Thursday announced the launch of the new Maroon Tigers competitive volleyball program, a 2020 initiative that will share part of a $1 million Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) grant in its inaugural year.
The new Morehouse College volleyball program is part of a national effort to bring the sport to Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Morehouse is one of six HBCUs that will add intercollegiate men's volleyball to their athletic lineups under the expansion. SIAC Conference Commissioner Greg Moore announced the expansion plan earlier this week.
Central State and Kentucky State universities and Benedict and Paine colleges also recently announced the launch of volleyball programs. Fort Valley State will soon share its intent to develop a men's volleyball team and coaching staff in time for the 2020-21 season.
The growth in the sport among HBCUs is being funded in part by an investment of $1 million from First Point Volleyball Foundation and USA Volleyball—$600,000 from First Point and $400,000 from USA Volleyball— to the SIAC Conference to encourage the development of new intercollegiate programs nationally. Morehouse's Maroon Tiger Athletics received a $150,000 gift to support the new program.
"I would like to thank our community partners at the SIAC Conference, First Point Volleyball Foundation, and USA Volleyball for their support and invitation to participate in this important expansion," said Morehouse's Interim Athletic Director Edwards. "The addition of volleyball will bring more variety to our sports program and will help us to continue to recruit scholar athletes who strive for excellence in the classroom and on the court."
Edwards said the school is launching a national search for a head coach for the new Maroon Tigers Volleyball Team.
The formal announcement of the new program was attended by several dignitaries, including John Speraw, head coach of the USA Men's National volleyball team, UCLA's head coach, and co-founder of First Point Volleyball Foundation. Olympic legend Edwin Moses, a philanthropist and self-described "volleyball dad," was also in attendance to show his support for volleyball at his alma mater. Moses and a representative from First Point Volleyball Foundation introduced the possibility of bringing volleyball to the men's college. Moses' son Julian Moses played college volleyball at NCAA Division II Lewis University.
"When Edwin and a group from First Point Volleyball Foundation approached us about the possibility of adding volleyball, it just struck us as something we should explore," said Thomas, the 12th President of Morehouse. "Boys' volleyball is the fastest growing team sport in America for high school boys. Men's professional volleyball is the third most popular sport in the world. I want to thank the leadership of our Interim Athletics Director Jay Edwards who led the way in getting this approved and securing commitments from the volleyball world to help us be successful."
"We all want more opportunities for young people in this country to compete in collegiate athletics," said Speraw of First Point Volleyball Foundation. "When we founded First Point Volleyball Foundation we envisioned supporting growth in NCAA DII. Jay (Edwards) has been terrific in committing to exploring this opportunity. There is such an amazing history at Morehouse College—from Dr. King to all the distinguished alumni—Edwin included. Being here today is a real honor for me. It is exciting for us to see volleyball becoming a reality at Morehouse College."