The NCAA women’s volleyball championship kicked off at the CHI Health Center Arena and Convention Center on Wednesday in Omaha, Nebraska. Before the 48-team field even arrived, coaches criticized the lack of resources at the tournament. Some issues were later rectified — after public outcry.
While the sport appears to be overlooked, the numbers tell a different story: Growth and revenue opportunities are booming at all levels of women’s volleyball.
At the high school level, women’s volleyball has grown in popularity, according to the National Federation of State High School Association. It even outperformed women’s basketball in 2018-19 — which demonstrated tremendous value at the college level.
When college athletes get the rights to their name, image, and likeness, women’s volleyball players can potentially make thousands of dollars annually. Northwestern’s Alana Walker — who has about 115,000 Instagram followers — could earn more than $156,000, according to the Student Athlete NIL newsletter.
Interest in the sport has been so strong that Athletes Unlimited decided to form the only U.S. professional indoor women’s volleyball league. It committed $1 million in salaries, according to Forbes. The 44-player league staged its inaugural season this past February and March.
The league was broadcast on Fox Sports and CBS Sports Net, and Nike and GEICO jumped in as corporate partners. And it had global viewership: It was picked up in more than 100 countries.
Indoor women’s professional volleyball was “probably the largest untapped opportunity in pro sports in this country,” Athletes Unlimited CEO and co-founder Jon Patricof told FOS.
For more, read this week’s edition of FOS College.