From morehouseathletics :
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 NCAA Division I-II HBCUs that will add intercollegiate 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. A sixth HBCU will soon share its intent to develop a volleyball team and coaching staff in time for the 2020-21 season.
Volleyball is the fastest growing team sport in the United States for high school boys, growing at 21 percent over the last five 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. 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 Morehouse is launching a national search for a head coach for the new Maroon Tigers Volleyball Team.
“We are so pleased to make a gift to Morehouse College. President Thomas and Director of Athletics Jay Edwards 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 also want to thank USA Volleyball for coming to the table and to all the volleyball donors from all over the country that are making this grant possible.”
“USA Volleyball is proud to be supporting this SIAC initiative to bring men’s varsity volleyball programs to six HBCU schools. 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 six of the schools’ presidents and athletic directors 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.”
The formal announcement of the new Maroon Tigers Volleyball 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 12thPresident 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.”
Edwards, a 1992 graduate of Morehouse, is a successful businessman, community leader, and member of the 1991 SIAC championship-winning Maroon Tigers football team. He was appointed as Morehouse’s interim athletic director in July. He is also the founder of the JME Group, an Atlanta-based firm that operates food, beverage, and specialty retail concessions in major airports across the nation, including John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.
“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.”
About Morehouse College
Morehouse College is the nation’s largest liberal arts institution for men. Founded in 1867, the College enrolls approximately 2,200 students and is the nation’s top producer of black men who go on to receive doctorates. Morehouse is also the top producer of Rhodes Scholars among HBCUs with five Morehouse Men receiving the honor. Historically, Morehouse has conferred more bachelor’s degrees on black men than any other institution in the world. Prominent alumni include: Martin Luther King Jr., Nobel Peace Prize Laureate; Dr. David Satcher, former U.S. Surgeon General; Shelton “Spike” Lee, award-winning American filmmaker; Maynard H. Jackson, the first African American mayor of Atlanta; and Jeh Johnson, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security. Morehouse currently has more than 17,000 alumni in 40 states and 14 countries. For more information visit www.morehouse.edu.
About the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
The SIAC is a NCAA athletic conference consisting primarily of historically black colleges and universities with headquarters in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. The SIAC includes 14-member institutions (Albany State University, Benedict College, Central State University, Clark Atlanta University, Fort Valley State University, Kentucky State University, Lane College, LeMoyne-Owen College, Miles College, Morehouse College, Paine College, Savannah State University, Spring Hill College, and Tuskegee University), which are located within a contiguous six-state footprint (Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee and Ohio). The SIAC sponsors seven men’s and six women’s sports and is a proud member of the NCAA Division II. For more information, visit www.thesiac.com.
About First Point Volleyball Foundation
Founded in 2016 by John Speraw, head coach of the USA Men’s National Team and UCLA Men’s Volleyball, First Point Volleyball Foundation exists to provide opportunities for young people to mature and develop through volleyball. Specifically focused on growing boys’ and men’s volleyball in the United States, First Point Volleyball Foundation initiates and celebrates FIRST POINTS whether that is a first point of a new NCAA team, or a new high school team, or a first point of competitive volleyball for a 12-year-old. First Point Volleyball has raised $3 million in less than three years and has helped start 16 new collegiate men’s volleyball programs. The Foundation has three strategic initiatives: (1) Growing collegiate opportunities; (2) Growing high school boys’ opportunities; and (3) Extending our Reach Diversity Initiative – expanding volleyball opportunities to boys and men of color.
About USA Volleyball
USA Volleyball is the National Governing Body (NGB) for the sport of volleyball in the United States and is recognized as such by the Federation Internationale de Volleyball and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). The vision of USA Volleyball is to be a world-class leading organization in all aspects of volleyball and to engage and inspire our nation through a cultivated passion for the game and continued success at winning Olympic and Paralympic medals. The mission of USA Volleyball is to lead, serve and grow all areas of the sport of volleyball—including beach, indoor, sitting, snow and beach ParaVolley—achieving excellence while providing a lifetime of opportunities for all to participate in a safe and positive environment. In order to accomplish this mission, USA Volleyball has established five strategic priorities: (1a) Safety First. Provide the resources, policies, tools and procedures to ensure that safety is a top priority for all USA Volleyball members. Foster a safe environment for members to report concerns and take the necessary appropriate action to address all claims in a timely manner. (2) Sustained competitive International, Olympic and Paralympic Success. As the USOC-recognized NGB, provide the opportunities and support necessary for our athletes at all levels of international competition, in beach, indoor and sitting, to reach the podium. (3) Participation, Program and Membership Growth: Provide the opportunities and resources through available programs which develop and retain a steadily growing participation base and a membership that is increasingly diversified. (4) Resource Optimization: Have a strategic and fiscally prudent financial plan that includes both resource cultivation and judicious allocation in support of our overall goals. (5) Marketing and Brand Affinity: Increase brand awareness while expanding affinity for USA Volleyball.
About Boys’ and Men’s Volleyball in the United States
Boys’ volleyball is exploding. Volleyball is the fastest growing team sport in the United States for high school boys, growing at 21 percent over the last five years. The second fastest growing sport grew by only 11.4 percent and football decreased nine percent over the same five-year period. With 61,000 boys playing high school now, it is projected that 100,000 boys will be playing by 2026. New men’s volleyball programs have been initiated in 80 universities in the last five years alone – mostly at the DII, DIII, and NAIA levels.