Photo: Karin Higgins/UC Davis

Two New Teams Coming Next School Year

May 1, 2018 | Sports, Spring/Summer 2018

Drumroll … The new UC Davis women’s varsity teams will be equestrian and beach volleyball.

The teams, which start next academic year, bring the number of women’s intercollegiate athletic teams to 16.

In November, the athletics department announced a nomination process for determining what teams to add in order to maintain compliance with Title IX. Compliance means providing opportunities for male and female student-athletes that is proportional to the undergraduate student body.

For more than five months, a campus group gathered and analyzed information about candidate teams before making a recommendation to Chancellor Gary May, which he approved.

The working group was specifically looking for teams using four criteria: the number of participation opportunities, philanthropic support, competitive prospects and conference affiliation. Ultimately, 40 to 45 participation opportunities were needed for female student-athletes.

The combination of beach volleyball, with 12 to 20 participants, and equestrian, with 25 to 65 participants, is projected to be financially similar to adding a larger equestrian team on its own or adding another large team like rowing.

Kevin Blue, director of athletics, said he anticipates that especially early on, “interested and capable” student club athletes will make up the varsity equestrian team, while some current indoor volleyball athletes will play beach volleyball in the opposite season.

UC Davis is now the seventh school to compete in beach volleyball, a Big West Conference-sponsored sport.

Planning will begin immediately for a new training and competition facility to be constructed on campus, thanks to a gift from an alum who prefers to remain anonymous.

“Starting a new program has its opportunities,” said Blue. “The beach volleyball facility can be used for clubs and intramurals.”

Dan Conners will oversee both the indoor and beach volleyball teams as the director of volleyball.

Considered an emerging sport by the NCAA, the UC Davis equestrian team will compete nationally under the governance of the National Collegiate Equestrian Association.

The School of Veterinary Medicine will provide clinical and medical support to equine athletes and conduct research on competitive equestrian. The equestrian team will also partner with the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Campus Recreation, the university organization that manages the UC Davis Equestrian Center.

Added Blue, “There’s also going to be a new opportunity to recruit students from all around the world because of the combination of the strong veterinary and animal science programs and the varsity equestrian team.”