Questions about practicing while visiting a college campus:
A few questions for you: On an unofficial visit, may a PSA participate in an organized practice (like during spring season, not the regular collegiate season)? Does this rule differ by D1, D2, D3, NAIA, etc? As a followup, what if it’s not a formal practice, but rather a group of players from the team in a pick up game w/o the coaching staff? Would your answer change if it was an Official Visit (probably not since it's just a matter of who's paying for the visit). Thanks in advance for your help! Regards, Dave.
These are some great questions about what a Prospective Student-Athlete may or may not do while visiting a college campus.
For Division I Volleyball a PSA on an Official or Unofficial Visit may not participate in an organized training session with a coach in attendance or observing (sometimes coaches like to just look in the window, but that is not allowed). There is no distinction between the Traditional or Non Traditional (spring) season. A PSA may engage in unorganized or 'pick-up' play with college players provided that a coach is not observing or attending. These 'pick-up' play sessions tend to be much more common in men's and women's basketball, because these college athletes are more or less mandated to be training/playing every day of the school year and almost all summer.
For Division II Volleyball, a PSA may participate in an organized training session provided that they present a physical examination, dated within the last six months to the college coach or trainer. This means that the PSA can jump in with the group of four training or the full team training, depending on the time of year. It does not matter if it is the Traditional or Non-Traditional season. This is a nice opportunity that DII coaches have to directly compare the talent level of a PSA to the current members of the team, along with allowing for some volleyball interaction between recruit and players. It also allows the PSA to get a feel for what it would be like to practice/play for a certain coach or program.
It is my understanding that Junior College and NAIA also allow such PSA training situations, but I am not sure of any needed paperwork. I am not too clear on the Division III rules, but I would lean toward these opportunities being allowed as part of a campus visit - but, please do not hold me to this rule; rather visit the NCAA website and look up on the rule under the Division III page.
By and large, the NCAA rules generally apply the same for an Official Visit and an Unofficial Visit. The biggest immediate difference is who pays for dinner (and hotel, and flight, and lunch, etc.). Another important difference is that the coaching staff may not travel off-campus to show you the community (they can travel off campus to show you a training or competition site) or to eat, even if the PSA pays for their own meal. Except for a couple of small things, all the other functions are the same and I believe this is one of the reasons that the Unofficial Visit is now the dominant on campus experience for a PSA and her family. The Official Visit is just a follow-up trip during the PSA's Senior year to hang out on campus with her new team (the exception being those programs that happen to be recruiting Seniors because of a late opening).
This was a great set of questions and hope the answer makes the practice opportunities during an Official or Unofficial visit a bit more clear!