NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Vanderbilt University today announced the addition of women’s volleyball as the university’s 17th varsity sport. Enabled by the transformational Vandy United campaign, the sport will begin competition in the 2025–26 academic year.
“Volleyball and Vanderbilt are a perfect fit, and we are excited to welcome a new group of student-athletes, fans and supporters to Commodore Nation,” said Candice Lee, vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs and athletic director. “Adding one of the most popular participation sports for girls and one of the NCAA’s fastest-growing women’s championship experiences is in line with our ongoing effort to reimagine the future of Vanderbilt Athletics and provide the best student-athlete experience in college athletics.
“Much work remains before the newest Commodores take the court, but we are excited to see volleyball create its own magic in Memorial Gymnasium.”
Today’s announcement marks the reintroduction of volleyball at Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt participated in the first officially recognized SEC Tournament in 1979. The university discontinued the sport after the 1979-80 academic year.
“As we approach the 150th anniversary of Vanderbilt’s founding, we remain committed to the mission of helping student-athletes realize their full potential,” said Chancellor Daniel Diermeier. “To fully serve this purpose, the university must itself never stop growing and seeking new opportunities for excellence. Today’s announcement of volleyball as our 17th varsity sport serves as further proof that we are writing a new chapter for Vanderbilt Athletics. Youth participation rates make clear that the sport has strong roots in Tennessee, and we look forward to bringing elite collegiate volleyball to our community.”
According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, volleyball has the second-most participants nationally among girls in high school sports and is the second-most popular high school sport for girls in Tennessee, with nearly 7,000 participants. At the NCAA level, nearly 350 schools currently sponsor Division I varsity programs, now including all 14 members of the Southeastern Conference. Last season’s NCAA Division I championship match between Nebraska and Wisconsin drew a record 1.19 million viewers on ESPN.
After careful study, Vanderbilt believes a 36-month timeline for implementation offers the program the best chance for sustainable and competitive success, particularly in the Southeastern Conference, which will now sponsor 16 varsity volleyball programs starting in 2025 with the addition of Oklahoma and Texas. This allows the university sufficient time to build the infrastructure and resources necessary to support the sport at a championship level.
Spearheaded by Vandy United’s master architectural firm Populous, facility plans include a renovation of the current basketball offices in Memorial Gymnasium for occupation by the volleyball program and the addition of a volleyball locker room.
Vanderbilt plans to conduct a national search this fall for a head coach to lead the program.