The Ohio Valley Conference announced the addition of beach volleyball as the conference's 19th-sponsored sport earlier this week.

Eastern Kentucky University added beach volleyball as a varsity sport in 2018-19 and completed its first season of competition this past spring.

Beach volleyball will begin its first year as an OVC sponsored sport in 2019-20.

Five OVC institutions currently field beach volleyball teams --Austin Peay, EKU, Jacksonville State, Morehead State and UT Martin. In addition, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has accepted an invitation to join the Conference an affiliate member in beach volleyball, giving the OVC six beach volleyball programs.

The OVC's inaugural beach volleyball season will debut in the spring of 2020. A six-team conference tournament also will take place at a date and site to be determined.

"Given the enthusiasm building around the sport of beach volleyball, we are excited to take this step and give our student-athletes a home in their primary conference," OVC Commissioner Beth DeBauche said.

The sport of beach volleyball, which made its debut in 2012 as an NCAA emerging sport, had 75 teams competing nationally at the conclusion of last season.

Currently four other core Division I conferences sponsor beach volleyball as a championship sport: the Atlantic Sun, Big West, Pac-12 and West Coast Conferences.

The beach volleyball season begins in February with the 2020 Beach Volleyball National Championship being held May 1 through 3 in Gulf Shores, Ala.

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