I am a former NAIA mens volleyball player from the Midwest. Since then I have moved towards the southeast. In my time here, I have noticed a strong pool of local mens volleyball talent. However, there are no college programs nearby for these student athletes. Because of this they end up either going across the country to play or not at all.
How could I go about starting a program at one of the local colleges?
Honestly.....Good luck. Because of the crazy mentality of NCAA Title IX and the REFUSAL of NCAA Presidents to put any type of constraints upon the unreal money race with football and men's basketball, adding male sports to NCAA member schools is not going to happen anytime soon.
Too many folks have taken the slant that supporting women's sports has led to the cutting of men's sports, per budgetary reasons. This is so far off the mark, that to believe it is to accept outright propaganda. You cannot tie up 6 million plus in staff salaries for two male sports and expect to fund other male sports; you cannot also expect to stay within the Federal Law and not make cuts. Unfortunately, these cuts have come to men's sports. I don't condone cutting men's sports anymore than I condone adding token women's sports to satisfy the law.
So, how to add men's volleyball in the Southeast? This region of the country is just starting to wake up to women's volleyball as a spectator sport, which at least provides some recognition of the college volleyball. I need to be careful about how I phrase this; the Southeast can be a bit patriarchal in its view of sports and volleyball many times is viewed as a second tier girls sport. My belief is that you wish to do more than create a collegiate club team, but this is probably the first step.
By creating a collegiate club men's volleyball team, you can at least demonstrate the interest on campus and start to put in place the mechanisms of a team which can eventually lead to a program. Collegiate club teams can play in USA Volleyball events, along with the various college team only men's tournaments.
I don't have experience within the NAIA organization, but my understanding is they may a little more flexibility not being caught up in the arms race of NCAA Division I athletics and more willing to support a start up collegiate program with demonstrated interest.
If you are set on a NCAA program, you are only going to be able to add a men's volleyball program at a college/university which has more female student athletes than male student athletes, or has a more male students than female students. Trying to balance the male/female student athlete ratio and/or matching the general student body population are central features of schools eliminating male sports and/or adding female sports.
Once you are able to determine if a men's sport could be acceptable (per the ratios), then the challenge is to go through the protocols (specific to that school) of starting up a program. Funding, facilities, funding, equipment, funding, student athletes, funding, eligibility, funding, etc.
The reality is men's volleyball is not going to be high up on most athletic department's to do list - You would need to demonstrate how easy and inexpensive volleyball would be to implement.
You have a tough challenge - My strong suggestion is to start building a collegiate club program and build it to such a degree of success, that raising it to a NCAA sport is within the mental realm of the athletic department. I don't think you will have trouble attracting players - Volleyball is a very athletic and powerful sport, and athletes will come to you.
PS - Since I originally published this post, I have received feedback from USA Volleyball folks with regards to information about starting up men's collegiate programs and the support which they offer; please visit www.usavolleyball.org.