EMU Men's Volleyball

Men’s Volleyball Joins Continental Volleyball Conference

The Royals men’s volleyball program will have a new conference in 2012.

Gary Williams, Associate Athletic Director of Carthage College announced the forming of the Continental Volleyball Conference (CVC), a nation-wide men’s volleyball conference with ten NCAA Division III Institutions focused on academic and athletic excellence. Williams will serve as the conference’s first commissioner.

The CVC will consist of Carthage College (Kenosha, Wis.), Eastern Mennonite University (Harrisonburg, Va.), Fontbonne University (St. Louis, Mo.) Juniata College (Huntingdon, Pa.), Milwaukee School of Engineering (Milwaukee, Wis.), the College of Mount Saint Joseph (Cincinnati, Ohio), Philadelphia Biblical University (Langhorne, Pa.) Stevenson University (Stevenson, Md.), Thiel College (Greenville, Pa.) and the University of California, Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, Calif.).

Steve Benson, the men’s volleyball coach at EMU, said joining the Continental Volleyball Conference made a lot of sense for the program.

“It allows us to stay with local teams with whom we have relationships from the North East Collegiate Volleyball Association and expand to play high quality teams from the Midwest and West,” he said.

Division III formally adopted the NCAA men’s volleyball championship as the Association’s 89th championship at the 2011 Convention held this past January. The NCAA has sponsored a National Collegiate Volleyball Championship since 1970, which was open to any varsity collegiate program in all three divisions.

With the recent exponential growth of the sport on the Division III level, the NCAA has added the Division III Championship. This adoption and the awarding of an automatic qualifier bid to the tournament, was the catalyst to the formation of the CVC. The conference brings together some of the best teams from across the country to qualify for the proposed nine-team NCAA Division III Championship.

EMU has been waiting for a Division III championship for a number of years.

“It’s exciting for the NCAA to add men’s volleyball as an officially sanctioned sport,” said Benson. “We have been a supporter of Division III men’s volleyball for many years and it’s tremendous to see this come to fruition.”

The teams in the conference, although varied in location, create one of the nation’s best conferences. In 2011, five of the ten teams have been ranked among the top 15 teams in Division III. The conference will begin competition in 2012, consisting of an east and west division.

The East Division will be comprised of EMU, Juniata, PBU, Stevenson and Thiel. Carthage, Fontbonne, Milwaukee School of Engineering, College of Mount Saint Joseph, and UC Santa Cruz will form the West Division.

Each team will play divisional opponents twice and the top teams from each division advance to the conference tournament. The CVC conference tournament champion will receive an automatic bid into the first NCAA Division III Tournament to be held at Springfield College on April 27-29, 2012.

“The conference’s focus is to create a league that will provide nationally recognized and competitive competition opportunities for our member institutions, while remaining fiscally sound and reducing missed class time, enhancing the overall student-athlete experience,” said Williams. “We are committed to providing a high quality volleyball experience from coast to coast, while maintaining the integrity of our student’s personal and academic lives and fulfilling the mission of an integrated student-athlete experience that is a staple of the Division III philosophy.”

Williams believes that the strength of the conference is its diversity of institutions and the ability to inspire future growth in men’s volleyball throughout the nation.

“The CVC also affords schools geographically separate from the majority of Division III men’s volleyball schools to create a league that will encourage future expansion and growth of programs in the Midwest and West regions of the country, while at the same time, providing a stable conference structure for schools that were not included in conference realignments before and just following the NCAA vote. Through our research of geographically diverse conferences such as the UAA and other single-sport models in men’s and women’s lacrosse we created a structure that will meet our goals and provide a competitive yet sound playing schedule.”