The idea of a Division III championship was first floated by several figures in the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association in the late 1980s, but was long dormant because of NCAA participation rules—50 schools must sponsor a sport before a national championship tournament can be officially sanctioned. The main impetus for growth in Division III volleyball had been an unofficial D-III championship tournament known as the Molten Invitational, started in 1997. In 2010, the required number of programs was reached, leading to the creation of the D-III championship.
The Division III championship has involved nine teams since its creation in 2012. This differs from the top-level NCAA Men's National Collegiate Volleyball Championship, which involved four teams through the 2013 tournament and expanded to six teams for 2014. Like the National Collegiate Championship, the Division III championship is a knockout tournament, with best-of-5-set matches. The two lowest-seeded teams play a first-round match, with the winner joining the remaining seven teams at the final championship site.