October 3, 2008

NCAA Rules Question

One of our readers has a good question with regards to contact at a match/tournament and the NCAA rules:

I just stumbled across your interesting website as I was looking for information due to an incident that occurred this past weekend. My daughter is a junior and her coach was approached by a college coach who observed her play at a local tournament. He said that he can't talk to her directly, but can keep in contact with her coach. He also inquired whether she was playing club in 2009 (yes, she will be) and inquired about her grades and overall attitude. My questions are: 1. why can't he speak with her (or us) directly; 2. does this mean she might be appealing to other coaches and 3. what do we do next? Ours is a relatively young program, and the only person who has gone on to play college volleyball is a student that graduated last year who is currently playing on a Division One team. Thank you, Ellen

The NCAA rules logic can sometimes can be difficult to understand, even for college coaches, but this is one rule that is a good one - Contact at a match or tournament.

To paraphrase, it is against NCAA rules for a college coach to have any verbal or written contact (no passing notes, this actually listed in the rule book) with a Prospective Student Athlete during the course of a tournament. Remember that the NCAA definition of a Prospective Student Athlete or PSA is any student-athlete that has started 9th grade. For parents of a high school Junior PSA, this rule extends to them also. For Parents of a Senior PSA, a coach may have contact with the parents, but it would count towards certain countable Contact limitations set for in the NCAA manual. The only occasion that a coach may verbally interact with a PSA at the conclusion of a tournament is after July 1st of the summer before and during the PSA's Senior year of high school

To specifically answer your questions:

1. He can't speak with you or your daughter directly because your daughter is a Junior in high school, so this is against the NCAA rules. The college coach can speak with your daughter's coach as many times as he wishes.

But, the college coach can have contact with your daughter via e-mail and letters. The NCAA rules say that written contact (letters, faxes and e-mails) can occur after September 1st of a PSA's Junior year in high school and they can be unlimited in number. This "unlimited in number" statement is why Text Messages are not allowed at any time between coach and PSA, simply because TM's can occur so frequently and a top flight PSA would get hundreds of Texts a day.

2. I would think that if a college coach has taken the time to approach the high school coach to inquire about your daughter, that other college coaches would also be interested. The key is to determine what level of program the college coach runs before trying extrapolate this interest upon other coaches. For example, it is a Junior College coach, then maybe Division I top 25 programs may not fall into the possibly interested category. But, if it was a mid-level Division I team, then this could be extended to a significant number of other schools.

3. What you do next, is what you should do if no college coach had approached your daughter's high school coach. This means you should ask your daughter is she would like to play college volleyball. If she says yes, then I suggest you read my Recruiting Plan posts where I have tried to list a year by year outline of taking an active role in the recruiting process.

Don't worry about how young or old or strong or weak the high school program is - college coaches look at individuals and try to project this PSA's ability to positively impact their own program.

The interest of a college coach, while it sounds like it has opened your family's eyes to a new future, should really be incidental. The focus, if your daughter wants to play volleyball in college, is to engage in a process that gets information about your daughter out to schools that she finds attractive from an academic, athletic, geographic, campus size, student population, etc. standpoint.

As I write about within the many recruiting labels, one of the most important things that a parent can do, is immediately try and get an honest evaluation about the skill level of your daughter with regards to college ability. If she is an elite level player with upper Division I potential, then this is the type of program she should be marketing herself towards. Conversely, if she is a mid-level Division II type of player, then do not expend energy contacting mid-major Division I programs and risk making the process an exercise in frustration.

I sincerely hope that your daughter feels great about the compliment of having a college volleyball coach interested in her volleyball abilities - there are many, many high school volleyball players that will never experience what your daughter just did.

Good luck and stay active within the process - Good things will come of it.