Biola University will add both men and women’s water polo beginning with the 2021-22 academic year. With Biola’s recent move to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II, the university is excited to continue to expand its athletics teams and student athlete population.
“We are excited to announce the addition of water polo programs at Biola University,” said Associate Athletic Director Eddie Shepard. “Water Polo is a very popular sport among high school students in our region. We feel we're positioned well to bring in some exceptional student-athletes and provide them with a fantastic collegiate experience.”
Biola will play its home matches right across from Biola’s main campus at the City of La Mirada’s SPLASH! Aquatic Center. Men's Water Polo is a fall sport, running September through November. Women's Water Polo is a spring sport, with a championship segment from mid-January through April.
The PacWest Conference does not currently sponsor water polo, so Biola is considering other conference affiliation options. The Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) and Golden Coast Conference (GCC) are both potential options.
“Adding men's and women's water polo programs is a great fit for the direction of athletics at Biola University,” said Senior Director of Athletics, Bethany Miller. “There is strong student interest that has been shared from within our student body as well as great local high school and community college competition in the region. With our upcoming facility renovations, this is an exciting time to expand our student-athlete population and invest in two new teams.”
This marks the first time Biola has added an intercollegiate sport in more than a decade. Biola plans to hire two full-time head coaches, one for men and one for women, during the Spring of 2020. This will allow for a full year of recruiting and training prior to the start of competition.
Two of Biola’s closest competitors, Azusa Pacific and Concordia Irvine, both sponsor women's water polo and compete in the GCC. In addition, Fresno Pacific has a women's team that competes in the WWPA. For men’s water polo, Concordia Irvine and Fresno Pacific both sponsor teams competing in the WWPA.
“Seeing the success that our other PacWest institutions have had with water polo is an encouragement,” said Shepard. “We look forward to fielding squads that can compete with them on an annual basis.”
All three divisions within the NCAA combine in water polo. This will allow the unique opportunity for Biola to compete not only against its traditional NCAA Division II rivals but also against some of the bigger names in intercollegiate athletics, such as University of Southern California, University of California, Los Angeles, and Stanford University.
California, particularly Southern California, is a popular location for water polo players and teams. Solely teams from the state of California have won the NCAA Water Polo Championship. Biola hopes to contribute to the 50 years of California champions for men's water polo and 19 years for women’s water polo. The addition of men and women's water polo will bring Biola up to 18 varsity sports and approximately 350 total student athletes.
For more information, visit Biola’s Athletics website.
Written by Neil Morgan, Biola University assistant athletic director.