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Former BYU volleyball coach Tom Peterson hired to guide Southern Virginia program

BYU's Men's Volleyball head coach Tom Peterson sits comfortably while he watches his team easily beat Stanford.  BYU vs. Stanford men's volleyball on March 3, 2006.
BYU's Men's Volleyball head coach Tom Peterson sits comfortably while he watches his team easily beat Stanford. BYU vs. Stanford men's volleyball on March 3, 2006.
STUART JOHNSON, Stuart Johnson/Deseret Morning News

Former BYU men's volleyball coach Tom Peterson has a new challenge ahead: spearheading a first-year NCAA collegiate program.

Southern Virginia University announced Monday that Peterson, who led the Cougars to the 2004 Division I national championship, will become the school's first men's volleyball coach. On Friday, the school announced it will field its first volleyball team in spring 2017, giving Southern Virginia 18 athletic programs playing at the Division III level.

"I personally know how much work goes into starting a new program, but the chance to build something special from the ground floor up can be very rewarding," Peterson said in a school release. "I am looking forward to helping young men develop in the sport of volleyball and in life. Some great things are in store for men's volleyball at Southern Virginia University."

Peterson heads to Southern Virginia with a long list of accomplishments already on his resume. He coached at BYU from 2003-06, piling up a 90-30 overall record and leading the team to its last national championship in 2004, the program's third overall. He was also named the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Coach of the Year in 2003.

Prior to that, Peterson led Penn State to the 1994 national championship. He has more than 30 years of college coaching experience, including time as an assistant with the Utah and BYU women's teams in the 1980s, helping launch Salt Lake Community College's women's team in 1996 and serving as Utah State's women's coach for two seasons.

He has coached in seven men's national championship matches.

Most recently, he coached Weber State's women's volleyball team for four seasons, compiling a 28-98 overall record before resigning in November 2014, then he served as the head coach for UVU's men's volleyball club team last season.

"We are extremely fortunate to have someone of Tom's caliber at the helm of our men's volleyball program," SVU athletic director Jason Lamb said in a school release. "He is one of the most decorated and well-credentialed volleyball coaches in the country, with numerous visits to the NCAA Tournament, including seven men's championship appearances and two national titles as a head coach."

According to Southern Virginia, after playing its inaugural season in 2017, the school hopes the men's volleyball program will be able to join the Continental Volleyball Conference, which has an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III national tournament. The Knights compete as a member of the Capital Athletic Conference, but only one other CAC school, Marymount (Virginia) University, sponsors a men's volleyball program.

The CVC, though, is an all-volleyball D-III conference with seven current members: Cairn, Eastern Mennonite, Juniata, Marymount, Rutgers-Newark, Stevenson and Thiele. Since Division III began crowning a national champion in 2012, the CVC has had one national runner-up, Juniata in 2014. In 2016, Rutgers-Newark advanced to the national quarterfinals and Stevenson to the national semifinals.

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