RIO GRANDE, Ohio — University of Rio Grande athletic director Jeff Lanham has announced that the school is planning to add the sport of men’s volleyball to its list of athletic offerings beginning in the Fall of 2021.
“Rio Athletics is excited to be expanding again and to bring men’s volleyball into our program,” said Lanham. “It seemed like a natural fit for Rio Grande. We’re able to address the lack of opportunities for young men to compete in volleyball as a collegiate sport and at the national level. It seemed like a win-win for both Rio Grande and for those young men looking for an opportunity to get an outstanding education while, at the same time, continuing to participate in their chosen sport.”
Rio Grande becomes the third River States Conference school to offer men’s volleyball, joining Midway University and Carlow University.
However, since the RSC does not currently sponsor men’s volleyball as a championship sport, Lanham said Rio Grande will seek to become an affiliate member of a conference which does, most likely the Mid-South Conference.
Men’s Volleyball became an official NAIA national championship sport in April 2018. It is the association’s 26th and most recent national championship sport. Over 40 NAIA institutions across the nation sponsor a varsity men’s volleyball program.
“We believe an exciting athletics program enhances our institution and provides a wonderful opportunity for students to earn their degree while playing a sport they love,” Lanham said. “What a great opportunity for Rio to jump into what is one of the fastest-growing team sports in the United States for males.”
Lanham added that a national search to identify a head coach will begin immediately.
“I look forward to putting a product on the floor that everyone will be proud of,” he said. “We expect men’s volleyball will be popular with our students and faculty and we also expect to see more enrollment applications from students from around the country and around the world because of the popularity of volleyball. We’re excited about this opportunity and we plan on bringing the same Rio Pride to this new sport as we do to all others.”
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.