Equity Committee doesn't endorse boys volleyball sanctioning

State volleyball generic

(Pam Wagner/CHSAANow.com)

AURORA — Boys volleyball hit a bump in the road last week as it seeks to become CHSAA's next sanctioned sport.

CHSAA's Equity Committee, which gives recommendations on sanctioning, could not to endorse the sport after hearing a proposal from a group representing boys volleyball last Thursday.

In a letter sent last week, the committee cited data that showed that 81 percent of schools "responded that by adding this sport, their proportionality numbers would either be negatively affected or their school's proportionality would become out of compliance." Proportionality deals with the balance of boys and girls sports as mandated by Title IX.

As such, boys volleyball will no longer be making a presentation to the Legislative Council at its meeting on Thursday. Still, a league may still choose to sponsor a bylaw seeking sanctioning at the April Legislative Council meeting.

"It's very possible that they still seek sanctioning," said CHSAA assistant commissioner Bethany Brookens, who oversees the Equity Committee.

There is a group of schools who feel very positively about sanctioning. A total of 74 percent of schools responded to a survey about adding boys volleyball, and of those, 77 percent favored sanctioning.

But the lack of a positive recommendation from the Equity Committee may make it a tall task if the bylaw were to come up for a vote in April. According to existing bylaw 5000.1, in addition to surveys of member schools, the Legislative Council needs to consider any "recommendations from the Equity Committee regarding positive and/or negative impact to proportionality in our member schools."

Larry Bull, the district athletic director of Cherry Creek Schools, gave the presentation on behalf of boys volleyball last week.

He noted that the sport has been around at the club level since 1996, and has since grown to more than 500 athletes participating around the state.

"It is public, private and charter schools doing this," Bull said. "You have very, very large schools participating, and very small schools participating.

"It has a 20-year history, and it has the potential to become an important sport for our young men in Colorado."

Their proposal would place boys volleyball in the spring season.

If Colorado were to sanction boys volleyball, it would become the 25th state to do so nationally. And the sport is definitely growing on the national level. Over the past five years, it has seen a 12 percent increase in participation, according to the most recent NFHS survey.

This is the third time boys volleyball has attempted to gain sanctioning from CHSAA. But, "I will tell you," Bull said, "the momentum is stronger" this time around.

Equity Committee member Dave Walck, the athletic director at Grand Valley, called the proposal "the most organized effort" he'd seen from boys volleyball. "This is something that more people are talking about, and I think it has the potential to be very successful."

The letter even acknowledged that "the entire committee was extremely impressed" by the presentation.

Still, the Equity Committee was unable to get past that 81 percent of schools that said adding boys volleyball would either put them out of proportion, or would have a negative effect on their number. 

So, as of now, boys volleyball appears to be in a holding pattern.

The Equity Committee also heard presentations from girls wrestling and ultimate frisbee last week. It also heard about the forthcoming proposal to add a fourth classification of boys soccer that will be put in front of the Legislative Council this week.

It gave approval on the 2A boys soccer proposal, as well as a split of 4A/5A co-ed cheer into separate classifications.

Girls wrestling inspired curiosity in the committee, and the group wants updates in the upcoming year or two to see how it develops.

CHSAA hasn't added a sport since a three-year span from 1997-99, when boys and girls lacrosse, and field hockey were all added.