Silvia Izquierdo, AP
FILE - In this Sept. 6, 2015, file photo, Marleen Van Iersel of the Netherlands, dives for the ball during the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Championship Rio Open 2015 third place game against Brazil, on Copacabana beach, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The 90th and newest NCAA championship will take place in Gulf Shores, Alabama, where beach volleyball hands out its first sanctioned title. The tournament marks a milestone for the sport that made a splash at the Olympics but had few organized domestic youth programs to help it grow.

SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah athletics department announced the addition of womens beach volleyball as a new intercollegiate sport beginning in the spring of 2017. Utah will become the ninth Pac-12 member institution to sponsor beach volleyball.

With the addition of beach volleyball, Utah now sponsors 19 intercollegiate teams (12 womens and seven mens). The 2017 beach volleyball roster will consist primarily of members of the 2016 indoor team.

"As one of the four sports mandated by the Pac-12 — along with football and men's and women's basketball — being competitive in women's volleyball is very important to us," Utah Athletics Director Dr. Chris Hill said. "Although this is just the second year of NCAA sponsorship for beach volleyball, it is already becoming a popular sport at the schools that have it. By adding beach volleyball as an intercollegiate sport, we become the ninth Pac-12 school to do so. This is a great opportunity for our volleyball program and for our student-athletes."

Assistant indoor coach JJ Van Niel will serve as the head coach of the beach volleyball team. Indoor head coach Beth Launiere gains the title of Director of Volleyball. The player pool of the beach team will come from indoor team. All the team's matches in its first season will be on the road.