The University of California, Davis (UCD) has announced that it will add two new sports to its intercollegiate offerings with the addition of women’s beach volleyball and women’s equestrian teams. This will grow UC Davis’ varsity sports offering to 16 women’s teams in addition to 9 men’s teams – one of the largest women’s sports offerings in Division I athletics.
The move came in response to a sudden shift in the school’s population demographics which mandated increasing opportunities for women in athletics under Title IX guidelines. In the 2011-2012 school year, the school was 55.1% women and 44.9% men; by 2016-2017, those ratios had changed to 59.4% women and 40.6% men. This puts UCD in compliance with “prong one” of the Title IX proportionality tests, which is when a school’s opportunities for women in athletics is proportional to the overall makeup of the student body.
Comments by UC Davis’ administration emphasized the school’s commitment to women’s athletics.
“UC Davis has been a leader in the growth of women’s sports throughout our history, especially under the guidance of pioneers like Marya Welch and Pam Gill-Fisher. With the support of Chancellor May, we are honored to uphold that tradition today by adding beach volleyball and equestrian to our intercollegiate athletics program,” said Director of Athletics Kevin Blue.
A campus work group spent more than 5 months gathering information and survey results on which programs to add. That group would eventually recommend beach volleyball and equestrian to Chancellor Gary S. May, which he then approved.
Both teams will begin competition next season in the 2018-2019 academic year. The school already has a club equestrian team that is part of a wildly-successful club sports program at UC Davis that won 3 club team national championships in 2017 (taekwondo, women’s rugby, and women’s water polo).
UC Davis competes primarily in the Big West conference, which already sponsors beach volleyball with 6 other teams – Hawaii, Cal Poly, Long Beach State, CSUN, CSU Bakersfield, and Sacramento State. UC Davis’ women’s indoor volleyball team (8-8 conference record in 2017, 4th place) also competes in the Big West. While the Big West does sponsor men’s volleyball (new this season), UC Davis does not currently field a team.
A summary of the process followed by the working group, including an assessment of how beach volleyball and equestrian met the previously published selection criteria — number of participation opportunities, philanthropic support, competitive opportunity, and conference affiliation —is available at this link.