MotorMVB’s efforts paying off as boys, men’s volleyball gain momentum

By December 4, 2017News

MotorMVB Foundation chairman John Speraw along with MotorMVB board and committee members before their August 2017 board meeting in Hoffman Estates, Ill.

In December 2016, USA Volleyball men’s national-team and UCLA men’s coach John Speraw, Wade Garard, Paul Tashima, four-time Olympian Lloy Ball, Marin Gjaja and Kelly Goodsel co-founded the MotorMVB Foundation, Inc. as an organization dedicated to the notion that philanthropy can accelerate growth of men’s volleyball.

MotorMVB hired a full-time CEO who was experienced in running national capital campaigns and was granted 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status this past spring. MotorMVB’s efforts are paying off and Wade Garard, the CEO MotorMVB Foundation, Inc., writes for VolleyballMag.com:

The “wish we could grow faster” era of boys and men’s volleyball is coming to an end. Competitive volleyball for boys and men is exploding everywhere. We have some serious momentum.

This is what momentum looks like:

High School — Boys volleyball is the second-fastest-growing high school sport in America. It has expanded by 15 percent over the last four years. Recent developments in Colorado and Ohio show that boys volleyball is moving towards gaining official status as a high school sport. MotorMVB has convened 25 volunteers from 10 states who are actively working on getting more states athletics associations to sanction boys volleyball.

Championship — The NCAA announced recently that next spring’s NCAA Championship will expand from six teams to seven. Bracket expansion is noteworthy.

Big West — In 2018, the Big West Conference will, for the first time, sponsor men’s volleyball as a Division I sport. Now there are five conferences in DI-II that each have an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.

USA Volleyball study — In 2016, even while resources were tight during an Olympic year, USA Volleyball responded to the request by Team USA men’s coach John Speraw and funded the cost of a study to assess the potential for growth and to determine strategies on how to grow the game for boys and men over the next decade.

AVCA –- The American Volleyball Coaches Association continued its role as the preeminent organizational leader in our sport and last spring committed $150,000 to the MotorMVB Foundation. The AVCA continues to hold its boys showcase and men’s coaches education track during the AVCA Convention.

NCAA Oversight –- The NCAA Oversight Committee announced a review of sports starting with men’s volleyball. A consultant has been hired to facilitate a survey of how the game can be improved. Everything is on the table including rules, structure of the championship and how to be more attractive for audiences and how content inventory can increase sponsorship support of the sport. USAV, Speraw, AVCA, and MotorMVB have been told they will have seats at the table and will get a chance to contribute to the process as ideas are circulated. The NCAA has said that this review is being conducted solely for the purpose of aiding in the growth of the game.

USA Volleyball –- In November 2017, USA Volleyball announced the awarding of $100,000 in grants to 10 different regions of USAV to support outreach, increased membership and participation among underrepresented populations. Several of the recipients including Gateway Region, Heart of America Region and others will be using some of the funds at the regional level to grow boys’ volleyball.

Generous Donors — Thanks to the generosity of volleyball passionate donors, MotorMVB has raised $1 million in cash and pledges designated to growing boys and men’s volleyball in its first 12 months. Given the history of philanthropy in the sport of volleyball, this is an incredibly promising start.

MotorMVB Grants — Already MotorMVB has awarded grants to eight colleges and universities and seven of these have announced the addition of new men’s volleyball programs in 2018 or 2019, including two new DII programs at Daemen College and Urbana University and four new NAIA schools including Life University, Cumberland University, Midway University and Viterbo University. Altogether, MotorMVB has announced $245,000 in grants and most of these are paid to universities over multiple years.

NAIA Championship status — MotorMVB announced grants and attended four men’s volleyball announcement news conferences in one month that took the NAIA count from 36 universities up to the magic number of 40 universities. With 40 NAIA schools now sponsoring, men’s volleyball for 2018-2019, men’s volleyball is now at championship-level support in the NAIA. Since the four announcements at Life, Cumberland, Midway and Viterbo, many NAIA universities have made inquiries to the the MotorMVB Foundation requesting information about men’s volleyball.

Division I dialogue –- The MotorMVB Foundation staff is spending time advocating for men’s volleyball while meeting with athletics directors and college administrators. Based on these meetings and based on our increased understanding of the unique circumstances at each school, we at MotorMVB are more convinced than ever that a period of upcoming growth in the amount of Division I MVB programs is coming.

There are several athletics directors of high profile universities who are intrigued and interested in learning more. Certainly, Title IX, available funding, previous sport cuts, and facilities are among many issues a university considers as factors when considering adding any sport. The good news is large donations have sparked power-five schools recently to add men’s sports (ice hockey at Penn State and Arizona State and lacrosse at Utah all were added upon donors making substantial contributions.) While lacrosse and ice hockey have gotten a head start on us at some universities with respect to fundraising and advocacy, the additions do demonstrate that when sparked by philanthropic giving, Division I schools will be open to adding men’s sports. With $1 million raised in under a year, MotorMVB is headed in the right direction.

Large Gifts –- Seven different donors (that we know of) have committed to six-figure level gifts to either MotorMVB or to a specific men’s volleyball collegiate programs in the last year. One donor family recently committed $100,000 to Princeton men’s volleyball endowment and UC-Irvine men’s volleyball recently announced a $250,000 commitment from one donor. Long-time head coach Arnie Ball recently retired but not before he had helped raise an endowment of $1.2 million for men’s volleyball at Fort Wayne.

Facility Naming –- The Ball State University new basketball and volleyball practice facility was named for Dr. Don Shondell. It is noteworthy because a Division I basketball facility has just been named for a volleyball coach!

Division III Growth –- The growth of DIII men’s volleyball has been significant. There are now over 100 colleges sponsoring men’s volleyball where there were only 65 five years ago. Division I and Division II is next.

NVA Pro-League — This weekend there will be eight men’s teams at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for a showcase announcing the formation of the NVA — the National Volleyball Association – a new pro-league. Though the showcase weekend is just a start, the event had a $50,000 purse.

Diversity –- MotorMVB has partnered with USA Volleyball to work on an initiative to grow diversity in our sport. The Extending Our Reach initiative has convened two meetings so far and a summit is being planned for 2018.

Advocating for the boys’ game and aggressive outreach are not new or novel things. There are plenty of examples over the years of men and women who have advocated, championed, founded and sustained boys club teams, boys high school programs and college men’s teams. And we want to hear their stories too.

The MotorMVB Foundation has partnered with the Ball State Center for Emerging Media Design and Development to develop a story-telling campaign. A group of Ball State journalism students will be traveling the country throughout 2018 reporting on the stories of MVB. Please share with us your stories at http://www.motormvb.com/share-your-story/

“I have been thrilled by the small indications we’ve received about the impact of MotorMVB,” Speraw said. “We have had power-five ADs tell us, ‘I get calls from lots of sports but never once from someone in volleyball. You have to keep doing what you are doing. I didn’t even want to be on this call but now I’m intrigued.’ That’s a direct quote.

“Gene Smith at Ohio State told us that we can’t expect all ADs to even know we are a 4.5 scholarship sport. And he was right! If we want to grow our game we have to get to work. We have to make calls and network and donate. Our sport has a compelling argument to grow. But it will require intentional effort from all of us. MotorMVB has a legitimate opportunity to make growth in the men’s game happen. Now is the time.”

And lastly, we hope you all will consider getting involved in some way in this period of growth of volleyball. If you want to help accelerate the pace of growth of men’s volleyball you can participate by contributing to the MotorMVB Foundation’s annual fund campaign.

The foundation board of MotorMVB recently announced that they would be matching dollar for dollar, cash gifts to the Foundation before December 31, 2017, from new donors.

Donations or recurring monthly contributions can be made at:   www.MotorMVB.com/Contribute/

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