December 26, 2008

College Volleyball Unofficial and Official Visits

I remember as a kid, the toughest day of the year was December 26th. A whole year to wait until Christmas came along again; a kind of child hangover from the Holiday rush. I sincerely hope that all of our readers had a healthy, happy and safe Christmas Day!!!

With the NCAA Dead Period coming to a close in a few days, a reader has a question about Unofficial Visits - Remember that an Unofficial Visit is allowed during a Quiet Period.

Q-when a PSA makes an ‘unofficial’ visit to a school….is the school required to notify the NCAA, or some other organization? And if so, is this information public to other college coaches? Our daughter, after taking an ‘unofficial visit’ and having a D1 program attend one of her HS games, has had an influx of letters in the mail-from all over not just one particular conference. Coincidence or can the two be related some how?

~A Fan

Unofficial Visits are not regulated in terms of the number of visits, time taken (other than not during a Dead Period) or necessary NCAA documentation. Schools do not need to report Unofficial Visits, yet many keep internal paperwork which provides some documentation about when a Prospective Student Athlete (PSA) was on campus.

Unofficial Visits can be taken at any time outside of a Dead Period - Freshman year, February 29th of your Junior year, on a full moon Tuesday, etc. Anytime that you want to go to a campus, see the coach and tour around, you are good to go.

The Unofficial Visit is the new Official Visit - Because of the Internet, well developed club volleyball organizations and high school programs that have perspective, an Unofficial Visit is the mechanism to gain knowledge about potential colleges. Nowadays, the majority of Official Visits are just a fun trip to come to campus, hang out with your new team mates, get some class scheduling decisions made and relax because your decision has been made for some time - It is also a great way to get some good free meals in your new town!

Many times, volleyball programs would rather it not be known that a PSA took an unofficial visit. Better to grab a good player before others are aware she is in the process of making her decision. It can be a small world when it comes to volleyball recruiting, especially those institutions which are in close proximity to each other and this may account for some of the additional postal service deliveries to your daughter.

But, to directly answer your question - no reporting to the NCAA or conferences by any host institutions is required. I would guess that it was coincidence or maybe your high school coach had mentioned the facts of your daughter's Unofficial Visit and another Division I school coming on campus to an additional school(s) that happened to call her - Basketballs are very active in communicating with high school/club coaches, and I would feel such verbal glad handing could easily occur within the volleyball realm.

As a review of Official Visit details, per NCAA rules, the host institution (the one providing the Official Visit) is to provide a written copy of the institutions graduation rate, the NCAA graduation rate and the Five Visit Letter. In theory, these documents are to be mailed at the earliest opportunity after a face to face encounter (home visit, high school visit, etc), but usually occurs immediately before an Official visit.

The graduation information is generally hard to understand and I rather believe the NCAA makes it this way to keep those interested in learning just how few athletes graduate. In summary, women's volleyball has a very high graduation rate in all schools and not so much for basketballs and football. I just saved all PSA's a bunch time trying to understand all the numbers.

The Five Visit Letter, which must have a more official sounding name but it is simply known as the Five Visit Letter to athletic departments, just informs the PSA that they are allowed Five Official Visits to NCAA schools. Back in the day, this was important in college volleyball because athletes generally waited until making a series of Official Visits before making a decision about their future college. Now days, between unofficial visits and panic attacked families in their Senior year, taking anywhere near five Official Visits is as rare as a double hit call.

Hope that helps and enjoy the ride!