February 19, 2009

Division I Volleyball Scholarship Funding Question

Coach -

I hope you can help clarify these situations.
Can a non-fully funded program divide up their budget any way they want? This would in essence make it an equivalency sport or must they just give a smaller number of full rides? In general, what is the situation given non-fully funded smaller D-1's. How is room and board handled etc... THANKS Brian

This is a good question which I would think a number of volleyfolks (my new term) may have considered. It lends itself to the reality that many Division I programs are not fully funded with 12 scholarships and are just trading on the DI moniker with their volleyball program to satisfy Title IX concerns.

First of all, we need to review a couple of NCAA terms with regards to sports and how they are supported with scholarships; Head Count and Equivalency.

A Head Count sport is one which only a certain number of athletes may be on an athletic scholarship. NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball, Football, M/W Basketball are Head Count sports (I think there are a couple of others, but I can't say for certain). As an example, DI Volleyball has a head count of 12. If the program is fully funded with scholarships, then 12 players will be on a full athletic scholarship. If a program is not fully funded with scholarships, the team can still only have 12 'heads' receiving an athletic scholarship and it is up to the coach to determine how to spend or divide the available scholarships among 12 players.

An Equivalency sport is one which any number of athletes may be on scholarship, but no matter how many athletes are on scholarship, the scholarship amount total must not exceed the NCAA limit. In Division I, M/W Soccer is an Equivalency sport. In Division II, Volleyball is an Equivalency sport with a total of 8 full scholarships available for use - it is up to the school/conference to determine if the volleyball program(s) will be fully funded. Under the Equivalency scenario, these 8 scholarships could be divided among 10 or 15 or 20 (etc) players, but the total of all the player scholarships must not exceed 8 fulls.

In addressing Brian's questions, we will look at it from the Division I perspective:
  • A Division I program which is not fully funded at the NCAA limit of 12 scholarships, can divide their available scholarships any way they want (keeping in mind any institutional protocols or limitations) as long as not more than 12 players are on a scholarship. Remember that it does not matter if a player is getting a dollar or a full, the criteria is on the number of heads receiving a scholarship - 12.
  • In a sense, it does make the Division I program a hybrid Equivalency sport - I say hybrid because you can not go over 12 heads, but you can award scholarships which are less than full or just award a fewer number of full scholarships.
  • How the "situation" would be handled is up to each coach, who would be working under department/institution guidelines. It would be important to know if the school was public or private, what is the policy with housing (underclassmen required to live on, etc.), are meal plans mandated for all students, etc. From experience, I would guess that scholarships would be applied first to tuition and fees (these are just numbers on paper for institutional book keeping), while room and board would come last because many institutions contract these functions out to other companies who operate on campus.

It was my impression that the number of non-fully funded Division I schools was falling because of the importance of attracting more female athletes for Equity counting, but I now believe this trend will halt while athletic departments manage the current financial crises.

Division I programs that are not fully funded are at a significant competitive disadvantage and this is compounded by the probability of limited budgetary support. It is hard to imagine an athletic department which does not support 12 scholarships, presenting enough funds in travel, recruiting, equipment and salaries to lift a program to prominence.

Hope the information helps.