Tusculum University in Tusculum, Tennessee will be adding a men’s volleyball program for the 2018-2019 season, they confirmed to VolleyMob on Thursday. The school competes in NCAA Division II Athletics, which for men’s volleyball means joining the “NC” division that encompasses Division I and Division II schools.
“We are extremely excited to announce the addition of bowling and men’s volleyball to our intercollegiate sports lineup,” said vice president for athletics and university initiatives Doug Jones. “Tusculum University continues to grow and the addition of these athletic opportunities will be a plus for the Pioneer student experience.”
Tusculum is the oldest university in Tennessee and has around 2,600 undergraduate students. Most of their existing 18 varsity athletics teams, with 14 competing in Division II and most of those in the South Atlantic Conference. The South Atlantic Conference doesn’t currently sponsor men’s volleyball, but the conference has strong ties to Conference Carolinas (which does sponsor men’s volleyball). 8 members of the South Atlantic Conference are former members of Conference Carolinas, including several charter members of the latter. Lincoln Memorial, Coker College, and Queens University of Charlotte are other South Atlantic Conference members who sponsor men’s volleyball, leaving the conference 2 schools away from an automatic bid to the NCAA Men’s Volleyball Championship tournament.
Jones says that commissioners of both the South Atlantic Conference and Conference Carolinas are discussing plans for a collaboration, but that he expects the SAC to start sponsoring men’s volleyball in the coming seasons.
The program will not be ‘fully funded’ to start, meaning it won’t offer the maximum 4.5 scholarships, right away, but Jones says their goal is to build to that level.
The Tusculum women’s volleyball team hasn’t finished over .500 since 2014, where they went 16-15, and are 2-6 so far this year. Senior libero Melissa Mazur surpassed 2,000 career digs on Tuesday evening in a loss to Lincoln Memorial.
The women’s volleyball team plays in Pioneer Arena at the Niswonger Student Commons, a $10 million, 2,000 seat facility that opened in 1998.
Tusculum enrolled 405 students in its 2017-2018 ‘residential student’ class, which was a 7.1% increase over the prior year. That makes it the largest-such class in school history.
The school also announced the addition of men’s and women’s bowling teams. The school will now offer 24 sports, including 10 new teams in the last 6 years. Among those is a women’s beach volleyball program that begins play this spring.