Men's Volleyball to start in 2019-20, Big Blue Water Polo set for 2020-21
The Millikin University Athletic Department is adding men's volleyball and men's and women's water polo to its lineup of NCAA Division III sports. The three new programs will give Millikin a total of 25 varsity sports.
Millikin will add men's volleyball for the 2019-2020 academic year with competition beginning in the January of 2020. The Big Blue water polo program will begin competition in the 2020-21 academic year. A search is underway for a head coach to lead the Big Blue men's volleyball program.
"Men's volleyball is a growing sport and we believe it will be an excellent addition to the Big Blue Athletics department," said Director of Athletics Dr. Craig White. "Adding men's volleyball will give more high school students the opportunity to play the sport they love, get an excellent Millikin education, and enjoy the NCAA Division III experience."
President Patrick White sees these additional sports as contributing to Millikin's overall growth.
"Millikin University is committed to increasing the number of our students while adding to the quality and excellence of the Millikin academic and athletic experience," said President White. "These additions will further the Millikin momentum in the coming years."
There are 207 high schools in Illinois that have boys volleyball programs with most of the programs in the Chicago area and Metro East area near St. Louis. There are 45 programs in Missouri located in the St. Louis area.
Millikin will become the fifth institution in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW) to sponsor men's volleyball. The addition of the Big Blue program will make the sport an official CCIW sport. Other conference schools with men's volleyball include Carthage, North Central and Augustana. North Park will add the sport in 2019.
The NCAA added a championship tournament for men's volleyball at the Division III level in 2012. The men's volleyball season starts in January with the NCAA Tournament concluding in late April. The NCAA Division III Tournament is currently 12 teams with 10 programs receiving automatic bids by winning conference tournaments. There are currently 105 men's volleyball programs in Division III with teams in 12 volleyball conferences, and eight independent schools.
Millikin will begin the search for a water polo coach in the fall of 2019 in hopes of bringing in its first class of student athletes in fall 2020. Men's competition will begin in the fall of 2020 with the women's season getting underway in spring 2021. Water Polo will be joining swimming and women's triathlon in the Millikin aquatics program. The program will practice and compete at the Decatur Family YMCA.
"The YMCA is a great partner for our aquatics program," said Craig White. "They are excited to join with us to add water polo to our offerings."
Illinois currently has 82 high school boys water polo programs and 78 girls programs. Illinois is tied for third with Florida for the state with the most programs behind California and Texas.
White expects water polo to grow as a sport in the future and he is excited that Millikin will be part of that growth. Millikin will become the first CCIW school to offer men's water polo and join Carthage as the second conference school to offer a women's program.