ATLANTA -- Georgia State Director of Athletics Cheryl L. Levick announced Tuesday the addition of sand volleyball as the 10th women's sport and 19th varsity program at GSU, beginning competition in the spring of 2013.
The team will be headed by current Panthers indoor volleyball coach Tami Audia.
Named an Emerging Sport by the NCAA, sand volleyball will be played for the first time at the varsity level in the spring of 2012 by approximately 15-20 schools. An estimated 30-40 more are in the decision-making process to join the Panthers for the 2013 season.
Georgia State has begun the recruiting process for their inaugural team and will be welcoming its first student athletes in the fall of 2012.
"It's exciting to know that we're on the forefront at Georgia State," says Levick. "There is a strong interest to add another sport and sand volleyball is very popular. We want GSU to be one of the premier programs, and we're working very hard behind the scenes every day to make that happen."
GSU will compete in a state-of-the-art sand complex, to be built behind the current GSU Sports Arena on the corner of Piedmont Avenue and Decatur Street on campus. The venue will feature three full sand courts and seating for 1,250 fans.
"We are thrilled to be starting a sand volleyball program at GSU," says Audia. "We are certain that with great support from our athletic department, we will be making GSU a top destination for the sport."
Joining Audia as Assistant Sand Coach is former Panther volleyball standout Beth Van Fleet, who brings eight years of pro beach volleyball experience to the staff. Van Fleet competed in over 80 Association of Volleyball Professionals tournaments from 2003-10 and is widely known throughout the sand volleyball community.
Prior to beginning her sand career, Van Fleet piled up 1,177 kills at Georgia State from 1995-98, the fourth-highest total in school history.
"I know that we have the ingredients to be successful here at GSU and I can't wait to develop a strong sand volleyball tradition," says Van Fleet.
According to the American Volleyball Coaches Association, an estimated 300,000 young women under the age of 18 are competing in the sport, predominantly at the club level.
The NCAA requires 40 participating institutions for sand volleyball to earn full NCAA sponsorship and a national championship. Additional schools in the southeast who have fielded a sand team include Florida State, College of Charleston, Mercer, Jacksonville and UAB.
Georgia State may distribute four full scholarships for the inaugural 2012-13 season, per NCAA rules.
"We really want to be successful in sand volleyball," Levick says. "It is (coach Audia's) goal, and mine, to have outstanding volleyball year-round at Georgia State University."
Georgia State University