LakePoint, Ga. – The Coastal Collegiate Sports Association (CCSA) announced the addition of Southern Mississippi and Texas Christian University (TCU) to the sport of beach volleyball, expanding the conference to 12 members for the 2018-19 Academic year. The Horned Frogs program has played beach volleyball since the 2015 season, while Southern Miss will compete in its inaugural season of beach volleyball in 2019.
The two programs join the CCSA, which enters its third season of beach volleyball this spring, and they will compete against some of the top beach volleyball programs in the nation. The CCSA Beach Volleyball conference has enjoyed tremendous success both regionally and nationally in its first two seasons. Florida State, the two-time defending league champions, finished runner-up in the inaugural NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship, while last season three CCSA squads were selected to compete at the NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship. In total, four of the 10 current members have been selected for the postseason tournament in the first two years.
"When the decision was made to add beach volleyball to our sports program at Southern Miss, we knew our next mission was to find a conference home to help our beach volleyball student-athletes compete at the highest level possible," said Jon Gilbert, Southern Miss Director of Athletics. "We thank the Coastal Collegiate Sports Association for our invitation into the league and look forward to developing rivalries in the league for years to come."
Southern Miss volleyball coach Stephanie Radecki added, "It's an exciting time for Southern Miss with the addition of beach volleyball. Beach volleyball is such a fast-growing NCAA sport and provides so many opportunities for female student-athletes to compete and grow. We are definitely looking forward to our partnership with the CCSA and excited to be a part of that conference."
CCSA Executive Director Meredith Eaker expressed her excitement about continuing the growth of CCSA Beach Volleyball with the addition of these two programs. "The CCSA is thrilled to welcome two more outstanding institutions to beach volleyball in Southern Mississippi and TCU. Student-athletes from both institutions will now have the chance to compete in a championship environment and be recognized for both their athletic and academic achievements by joining our conference. We look forward to great competition with the Horned Frogs and Golden Eagles when they join the CCSA."
"First and foremost, we would like to thank the CCSA for extending an invitation to TCU beach volleyball, as we are honored to be joining their league for the 2018-2019 academic year." Director of Volleyball Jill Kramer stated. "Our SWA Kim Johnson, our head beach volleyball coach Hector Gutierrez and I have been working towards a conference affiliation for our beach volleyball program since 2015. The CCSA will provide a very competitive landscape for our beach volleyball student-athletes, and give them the best opportunity to truly compete for a National Championship. Having previously coached at Florida State University, Hector knows the landscape of the CCSA well and will guide the TCU beach volleyball team to new heights."
TCU Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Jeremiah Donati added, "We're very excited to receive and accept an invitation for our beach volleyball program to join the CCSA. Having conference affiliation, combined with our No. 13 national ranking to close last season, continues the tremendous momentum we have in beach volleyball under the leadership of head coach Hector Gutierrez. We can also take pride now in having a conference home for all 21 of our sports."
Beach Volleyball became the 90th championship sponsored by the NCAA in 2015-16 after being officially recognized as an NCAA sport for 2011-12. The NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship in Gulf Shores, Alabama, is hosted by CCSA member UAB. In December 2017, the NCAA awarded ESPN the television rights to broadcast the NCAA Beach Volleyball Championships for the next five years.
The creation of CCSA Beach Volleyball provides student-athletes the opportunity to compete for conference honors and championships. The NCAA does not currently offer automatic qualification (AQ) into the beach volleyball championship for conference winners, but the CCSA is positioned to qualify should AQ's be offered in the near future.
The CCSA, an NCAA Division I conference, formed in 2007 as a partnership among swimming and diving programs in the ASUN Conference, Big South Conference, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and Southern Conference to provide championship opportunities for the men's and women's swimming and diving student-athletes. Conference growth in swimming and diving now shows 13 institutions with competitors from seven separate Division I multisport conferences. With the addition of beach volleyball, the Coastal Collegiate Sports Association now boasts 22 member institutions with participants from 11 different NCAA Division I multisport conferences.