NEW ORLEANS – The Sun Belt Conference will add beach volleyball as its 19th sponsored sport, beginning with the 2023 season this spring, Commissioner Keith Gill announced Wednesday.

Coastal Carolina has competed in beach volleyball since 2016, first as a member of the Atlantic Sun (2016-21) and then last season as an affiliate member of Conference USA (2022).

Coastal Carolina is one of four Sun Belt Conference institutions that currently sponsor beach volleyball, including Georgia State, ULM, and Southern Miss. In addition, the Sun Belt will welcome affiliate members College of Charleston, Mercer, Stephen F. Austin, and UNC Wilmington to form the eight-team league.

Beach Volleyball is the fastest-growing sport in the NCAA with nearly 180 participating institutions across all levels of the NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA, including 67 NCAA Division I institutions.

“We are pleased and excited to welcome Beach Volleyball as our 19th championship sport,” Gill said. “As the fastest growing collegiate sport, particularly within the footprint of the Sun Belt, it is a perfect fit for our conference. We’re looking forward to providing an elite competitive and championship environment for the student-athletes, coaches, and fans of Sun Belt beach volleyball.”

In conjunction with the Coastal Collegiate Sports Association (CCSA), the Sun Belt Conference will co-host a conference championship in 2023. The event is set for April 27-29 at the John Hunt Sand Volleyball Complex in Huntsville, Ala. The winner of the conference championship will earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.

The 2023 NCAA National Collegiate Beach Volleyball Championship – a 16-team single-elimination event, will take place in Gulf Shores, Ala., May 5-7. The National Collegiate Beach Volleyball Championship features teams from NCAA Division I, Division II, and Division III. It is the 90th and newest NCAA Championship event.