IHSAA ruling overturned; Beach and indoor volleyball are different sports

September 19, 2023 / Athletic AdministrationVolleyball
A review committee has overturned a ruling by the Indiana High School Athletic Association that would take away a year of eligibility if athletes participated in beach volleyball events during their high school season.

The decision comes after a junior volleyball player, Logan Bell, and her parents requested guidance over the summer on IHSAA bylaws regarding competition in a different sport during the high school season. IHSAA commissioner Paul Neidig originally ruled that beach volleyball and indoor volleyball should be considered the same sport — a decision that is counter to the guidance offered by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).

volleyballThat ruling resulted in the Bell family requesting an appeal heard by a panel of athletic directors in late August.

A recent story from the IndyStar details the IHSAA decision. Below is an excerpt from the IndyStar story.

In the Review Committee’s ruling, Delta principal Chris Conley, the hearing officer, wrote the IHSAA General Eligibility Rules “arguably implicates only ‘standard’ high school volleyball,” thereby entitling Bell to “play beach volleyball during this year’s contest.”

The beach volleyball season runs from May through November.

This decision aligns Indiana with nearby states — Ohio and Missouri, specifically — both of whom distinguished beach and indoor volleyball as separate sports. There are numerous practical differences between beach and indoor volleyball. Beyond the different playing surfaces, beach volleyball is played on a smaller court, with only two players (two as opposed to six) and a larger ball. It’s also worth noting the two are considered separate sports at both the college and international levels.

According to a recent High School Athletics Participation Survey by the NFHS, beach volleyball increased from 2,237 to 6,489 participants among its 51 United States member associations, “a tripling of participants in only three years.”

To read the full story from the IndyStar, click here.