MACON, Ga. - The Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association, a Division I conference member of the NCAA, announced its decision today to rebrand as the Coastal Collegiate Sports Association (CCSA). The move corresponds with the addition of beach volleyball as a conference sport. The CCSA also announced a new Executive Director in Mike Hagen.
CCSA Beach Volleyball will begin play in spring 2016 with eight founding members: University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), Florida Atlantic University, Florida International University (FIU), Florida State University, Georgia State University, Louisiana State University (LSU), University of South Carolina and Tulane University. The first CCSA Beach Volleyball Championship will be held at LakePoint Sports Complex in Emerson, Ga. on the Rally Volleyball Courts on April 22-24.
"The CCSA swimming championships have been an extremely gratifying experience the past eight years," said CCSA President Ted Gumbart. "To be able to provide championship opportunities through the cooperative efforts of multiple conferences has proven to be a perfect solution for the student-athletes. Expanding the CCSA through the addition of beach volleyball fits the same criteria as swimming - meet a need for opportunity with a cooperative solution. We are extremely pleased to partner with our beach volleyball members and to celebrate with them through our inaugural CCSA Beach Volleyball Championship this spring."
Hagen, who currently serves as the Associate Commissioner for Institutional Services at the Atlantic Sun Conference, succeeds current CCSA President Ted Gumbart (Atlantic Sun Commissioner), who served in the dual role of Executive Director and President the past eight years. Hagen's appointment was made by the CCSA Board of Governors which includes the commissioners of each of the association's founding four conferences (Gumbart, Atlantic Sun Conference; Kyle Kallander, Big South Conference; Dennis Thomas, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference; John Iamarino, Southern Conference) and the CCSA Senior Woman Administrator (Kathy Peterson, Associate Athletics Director, Florida Gulf Coast University).
"Mike has provided outstanding service and leadership in every role provided for him and the CCSA's continued growth and success is in tremendous hands," said Gumbart.
"The addition of Beach Volleyball to the CCSA demonstrates the creative thinking of these institutions to add championship opportunities for their student-athletes," CCSA Executive Director Mike Hagen said. "The CCSA will be a leader in the sport, and we look forward to competing for national championships in beach volleyball in addition to swimming and diving."
Beach volleyball became the 90th championship sponsored by the NCAA this past summer after being officially recognized as an NCAA sport for 2011-12. The first NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship will be conducted this May 5-7 in Gulf Shores, Alabama and will be hosted by CCSA member UAB. 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 (a two-year championship history is required), but the CCSA will be in position to qualify for an AQ should they be offered in 2018.
Members from the newly formed CCSA Beach Volleyball Conference are delighted to be a part of this new league. "Florida Atlantic University is grateful to CCSA for inviting us to be a charter member for beach volleyball," said Pat Chun, FAU's vice president and director of athletics. "The opportunity for our student-athletes to compete for a conference championship is invaluable. We look forward to doing our part to build one of the best beach volleyball conferences in the NCAA."
"We are excited about the rapid growth of beach volleyball on a national level and participating as an inaugural member in the CCSA Beach Volleyball Conference alignment." LSU's Senior Woman Administrator Miriam Segar said. "This opportunity will provide a championship experience for our student-athletes and a strong competitive field of institutions."
Beach volleyball, or sand volleyball as it was called at the time, was declared an emerging NCAA sport for Division II in 2010 and Division I in 2011. Its rapid growth allowed beach volleyball to reach the 40-program threshold to be considered for championship status last year. Sponsorship levels passed 60 NCAA varsity programs for 2015-16 as beach volleyball remains one the country's fastest growing sports.
The CCSA formed in 2007 as a partnership among swimming and diving programs in the Atlantic Sun 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 15 institutions with competitors from eight separate Division I multisport conferences. With the addition of beach volleyball, the Coastal Collegiate Sports Association now has 22 member institutions with participants from 11 different NCAA Division I multisport conferences.