06/14/2017 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/15/2017 17:25
The NCAA added Division III Men's Volleyball as a Championship in 2012 and the sport has seen tremendous growth at the high school and club levels in the region and across the country. The addition of Men's Volleyball will enable Eastern Athletics to provide competition opportunities and give the University the ability to recruit for a new group of student-athletes.
'This will provide opportunities for competition and enhance the student-athlete experience,' Birtwistle stated. 'It also gives our department a chance to further contribute to the growth of the university. I am confident that we will be able to find quality student-athletes who align with our core mission and values and who will represent the University well.'
Eastern Men's Volleyball will compete as a member of the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC). This past spring, four MAC Institutions sponsored Men's Volleyball and three others are adding the sport for 2017-18. With eight member schools, the MAC Champion will qualify for an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
'The MAC is delighted that Eastern is adding men's volleyball,' Ken Andrews, the Executive Director of the MAC, said, 'They [Eastern] have a great tradition in women's volleyball that will likely be followed by the men! The MAC will have at least eight sport sponsors in the 2018-19 season.'
With 19 Conference Championships in the last 20 years, Eastern has a strong Women's Volleyball tradition. Eastern's Women have garnered 34 All-America honors and have been ranked in the AVCA National Top 25 since the 2008 season.
'Our mens' team will have a hard act to follow, (relative to the success of our women's team) ' Bettie Ann Brigham, VIce Provost and Athletics' Direct Report stated when announcing the addition. 'but we are delighted to now have that challenge before us.'
Men's Volleyball is the sixth addition in the last six years for the department. Brigham has overseen this strategic growth in her role as Vice Provost. Women's Golf, added in 2012, has won three MAC Championships, and Eastern Track and Field teams, which were added in the fall of 2016, have doubled in size between their first and second seasons.
'We recognize that starting a new program is a significant challenge,' Birtwistle concluded. 'I am pleased that the University has shown this commitment to the role athletics can play in student development and the growth of the institution. We are excited about the potential for Men's Volleyball at Eastern.'