ATLANTA, GA – The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAC) announced today the addition of men’s volleyball as the league’s 14th-sponsored sport with the support of a $1 million grant from First Point Volleyball Foundation and USA Volleyball. Men’s volleyball will begin its first year of competition in 2020-21.The $1 million grant is being funded with $600,000 from First Point Volleyball Foundation, a nonprofit started by John Speraw, Head Coach of the U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team and UCLA, and $400,000 from USA Volleyball.

Six SIAC member institutions will sponsor NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball and will debut in the spring of 2021. A six-team conference tournament also will take place at a date and site to be determined.

“We are extremely pleased to receive this generous investment from the First Point Volleyball Foundation and USA Volleyball,” said SIAC Commissioner Gregory Moore. “I am convinced that the impact of this gift will not only be felt on the campuses of those participating SIAC member colleges and universities, but this gift could also serve as a catalyst for increasing African American participation in men’s volleyball throughout the United States. Moreover, as the one of the most popular sports internationally – particularly in Sub Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, HBCU sponsorship of men’s volleyball will also create international recruitment opportunities for SIAC member institutions.  Finally, much credit must be accorded to the Presidents and Athletic Directors of all of the participating SIAC member institutions for collectively working together to embrace this historic opportunity.”

First Point Volleyball Foundation and USA Volleyball have both made diversity a strategic priority initiative and Jamie Davis, USA Volleyball’s CEO,believes the impact of HBCUs offering Men’s Volleyball will be profound.  “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. 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,”Davis said.

John Speraw said, “We talk at USA Volleyball about the Path to the Podium. It is not outlandish to think that a young man playing in the SIAC conference in 2021 could be an Olympian in 2028 or 2032.  Our work at First Point Volleyball Foundation is providing more opportunities for young people and it is also building our pipeline for more success at the international level for Team USA for decades to come.”

The historic week will begin in Frankfort,Kentucky as President Christopher Brown II will announce that Kentucky State University will be the first named grant recipient and will be adding men’s volleyball beginning in the 2020-2021 school year.  In addition to the Kentucky State announcement, press conferences will take place where new men’s volleyball programs will be announced at Central State University in Wilberforce, OH, Benedict College in Columbia, SC, Paine College in Augusta GA, Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA and Fort Valley State University.  Kentucky State University, Central State University, Benedict College, Paine College, Morehouse College and Fort Valley State each will be receiving $150,000 from First Point Volleyball Foundation and USA Volleyball over a three-year period as part of the SIAC grant program.

“It has been terrific working with Greg (Moore) and the SIAC Conference,” Speraw said.  “We are thankful for the many generous volleyball donors from across the country that have supported First Point Volleyball Foundation and allowed us to provide support to the SIAC and to new college programs to come.”

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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. www.firstpointvolleyball.com.

About USA Volleyball
Founded in 1928, USA Volleyball is a non-profit organization recognized by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) as the National Governing Body for the volleyball disciplines of beach, indoor, sitting, snow and beach ParaVolley in the United States. With more than 370,000 registered members, USA Volleyball conducts national championship events, coaching and referee certification programs, and grassroots development across all disciplines in a lifetime sport in which all can participate. USA Volleyball’s teams have won an Olympic medal in every Olympic Games since 1984, four Paralympic medals since 2004 and numerous World Cup, World Championship and Continental Championship titles. For more information on USA Volleyball, visitwww.usavolleyball.org. #PathtothePodium

About Boys’ and Men’s Volleyball in the United States
Boys’ volleyball is exploding.  It is the fastest growing team sport in the United States for high school boys, growing at 22% over the last five years.  The 2ndfastest growing sport grew by only 10% and football decreased 9% over the same five-year period.  With 63,563 boys playing high school now it is projected that 100,000 boys will be playing by 2026.  Minnesota added 1,000 boys volleyball players and 51 high school teams in the last two years alone.  Colorado just officially sanctioned boys’ high school volleyball and sanctioning initiatives and pilots are underway in 18 additional states.   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. In 2018, First Point Volleyball Foundation provided Saint Francis College- Brooklyn (a Division I institution) a $100,000 grant to add Men’s Volleyball beginning in 2019-2020.