May 25, 2008

College Volleyball Improvements

In reading back through a number of my posts, I realized that much of what I had written was critical of the changes that have occurred and pessimistic about the future of college volleyball. I do not wish to mimic a television or radio commentator who just makes blanket statements about how wrong something may be or how someone/something is to blame.

To this end, I have listed a series of suggestions that I believe would be beneficial to the sport of college volleyball or the profession of being a college volleyball coach. If you have taken time to read the link that provides my background in the sport of volleyball, the below suggestions are from a complete volleyball education:

1. The NCAA National Championship format must be changed - we are mimicking basketball but will never be allocated the financial or media support to be like the basketball championship. Change to a Great Eight format over 4 days, use regional "pods" that can be marketed to television, be creative in developing a format specific to college volleyball.

2. Pick a permanent home site for the Women's National Championship - If attendance is the goal, then Nebraska could work - If being located in a major media market is the goal, then Los Angeles could work - Just pick one city that can be identified by media, fans, players, coaches as the destination that everyone wants to be at come the end of the season. I have no preference, just make it somewhere that supports the sport.

3. Create an College Volleyball coaches association. I do not believe the American Volleyball Coaches Association is a viable organization to advocate for the professional satisfaction of being a college volleyball coach. Let's have an association that only focuses on making our professional lives better.

4. Each member of the NCAA Rules Committee should somehow be representative of the coaching body. It concerns me that the last two major rule changes - to rally score and the double hit/point cap reduction were overwhelmingly opposed by the coaches and conferences, yet both passed. This leads me to believe that there are a few coaches that are dictating policy for our sport without representing the profession. This has to end because the changes which have occurred permanently changed our sport with no benefits.

5. College coaches that have achieved a certain measure of success and security must advocate for the professional betterment of the remaining coaches - Be a loud voice for positive professional change; advertise your salary, share your budget numbers, support other coaches in their efforts to improve their own situation.

6. If the NCAA is really concerned about the lack of female coaches coaching volleyball, all they have to do is provide money and pressure upon the member institutions. It is such a farce to hear the NCAA bemoan the lack of female coaches, yet they condone salaries that are less than a fast food restaurant manager. If they can 'grant' almost 500K for women's basketball marketing, they can supplement salaries. I have lost a number of quality female assistant coaches simply because they could not financially afford to remain as coaches.

7. College Beach Volleyball needs to go away - It is pulling money, focus and marketing away from indoor volleyball. Does college softball support Over-the-Line tournaments, does college basketball support 3 on 3 tournaments, does college football support flag football games, does college baseball support Whiffle ball? This is how non-volleyball people are looking at us and college beach volleyball.

8. Stop playing multiple matches a day in tournaments during the traditional season and gradually move away from tournaments all together. Playing multiple matches in a day demeans our sport - does football or basketball do it? It can't be very good for our sport when some college teams are playing at 10 a.m. on a Saturday in front of 3 people - All matches should be the feature match at a normal time.

9. College Volleyball Coaches need to stop being nice to those outside our profession. We tend to be the nicest coaches on each campus and we tend to be the least supported. I don't want us to be mean, but cordial or professional is the term I would rather use than nice. Too many times, we are 'nicing' ourselves into no raise, no support, no contract and when we do raise our voices, we are criticized for not being a team player or being selfish. I think Dr. Phil once said, "You teach people how to treat you".

10. Unless a coach is making over 75K per year, we should go on the academic type of employment letter or contract. Professors typically are on a 10 month, full time, full benefit contract. This allows them to have the summers off for travel, research, whatever they want, but they still get the same salary and benefits. A 10 month contract (May, June, July - pick two to take off) would allow for family vacation time, the development of camps, work on your house - just get some balance in life; the professors are way ahead of us in this regard. Either pay us with salary or pay us with time.

11. Division I college coaches should not be allowed to coach club volleyball. This is supported by the NCAA simply because AD's know that it will supplement salaries so the schools don't have to pay as much. Instead of asking coaches to take two jobs to support their livelihood, we need what basketball and football has, a rule preventing this - Don't be alarmed, our magnificent abilities of coaching junior players will not be missed.

12. A 5 year freeze on any more rule changes - no proposals, no experimentation, nothing! Leave it alone.

Just some thoughts on what could be positive steps in the professionalism of being a coach and the efforts to make college volleyball a more support sport.