Bravo to the Pac-12 Network for Advancing the Sport of Volleyball

Julie and Ed Chan
It was a packed house Saturday night for the finals matchup between UC Irvine and USC.

Women’s collegiate volleyball got a big boost a few years ago when ESPNU agreed to televise all four NCAA Regional Finals to go with the live coverage of the semi-finals and championship match on ESPN2. Recently, coverage has received a boost from the Wednesday Night Spikes on ESPNU, ESPN3’s coverage of the regional semi-finals, and continued Big Ten Network coverage.

However, that is nothing like the boost that women’s sports overall have received from the new Pac-12 Network through the vision of Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. The VBM Editorial Board thinks this is a significant step in making the collegiate sport bigger nationally with the mainstream sports fan.

In addition to local cable outlets in Pac-12 cities throughout California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado, there are various ways to watch volleyball matches nationally. Games are shown on the Dish Network, there are iPhone applications that allow you to watch anywhere you go, and a Direct TV deal is in the works.

Through November, 82 women’s collegiate volleyball matches were televised live with the new Pac-12 television contract. That included a four-match Pac-12 TV showcase series, spearheaded by the AVCA’s Kathy DeBoer, with the four California colleges playing a top college team from China. There were even two Pac-12 ESPNU matches for the first time, beginning with UCLA at USC in September, featuring No. 1 and No. 2 in the nation at that time.

While there has been virtually no men’s collegiate TV coverage outside of the NCAA Finals in recent years, that is going to change because of the Pac-12 Network. Plans are being finalized to televise at least eight men’s matches involving UCLA, USC, and Stanford, and eventually spreading to the rest of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation conference. At one time, the CBS Sports Network televised all three conference tournaments, but that has not happened in several years. In fact, outside of the Olympic Games on NBC and their other networks every four years, there has been no significant men’s indoor coverage.

Now, through the Pac-12 Network, volleyball enthusiasts can find televised broadcasts of the collegiate sport from late August until early May. The Men’s NCAA Finals are scheduled for May 4 at UCLA on one of ESPN’s networks, which will end the most televised nine months in collegiate volleyball history. Bravo to the Pac-12 Network and Larry Scott, who have embraced the sport we love.

Originally published in January 2013

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