June 12, 2010

Volleyball Scholarship for Walk-On

If a walk-on Freshman is offered an athletic scholarship for a future year, say for example her Sophomore year, are there any limitations to receive the athletic scholarship again for Senior year?

The NCAA says that athletic scholarships are one year agreements which can be renewed for up to 5 years. Each spring, renewals and/or initial athletic scholarship agreements are generated by the athletic department and university/college. A student athlete receiving a scholarship one year does impact her possibility of receiving a scholarship in another.

It is my feeling that there exists two types of walk-on volleyball players. One category is the walk-on who was recruited to the program and part of this recruitment is the reception of a scholarship at a future date. The second type is the walk on who comes to the program without any consideration of a future scholarship.

In today's world of NCAA Division I recruiting, more and more PSA's are selecting the recruited walk-on position. For PSAs this can be attractive because it allows the opportunity to join a team and school which they feel fits them best. The college coaches are supportive of such situations, as it helps the program by having a player worthy of a future scholarship train at a high level and compete, yet does not count against the head count total of DI Volleyball.

And, more PSAs are taking the pure walk on path to join a volleyball program and university. While this is the more expensive avenue, some families have the resources to make this happen and feel the cost is worth participating with the team and being a student at a select school. Why all coaches would love to scholarship all the players on their roster, the reality is NCAA Division I is a head count sport with a limitation of 12 players (heads) on scholarship. The pure or traditional walk on position would tend to occur more with the public universities because of the lower cost of attendance and these SAs would be more oriented towards practice players.

Sometimes a program will have a scholarship become available very late in the spring season because of grades or a late transfer situation. By this time of the year, the opportunity to find a scholarship level Division I player for August is gone and this scholarship would be held for the next incoming class. This results in a scholarship being available for one year only. If a program does not have any recruited walk-on players in the que for a scholarship, then the traditional/pure walk-on player could receive a one year scholarship; college coaches should be very specific that this is a one year agreement and occurred because of a quirk in the recruiting protocol.

I have seen it happen with a few programs and it can be a good thing and it can also be a bad thing:

The Good:
  • It provide a one year financial bonus to the SA and her family for collegiate education.
  • It acknowledges the effort of a walk on player in a direct way.
  • The team feels good about a good thing happening for their team mate.
  • Financial resources allocated to the program stay in the volleyball team.
The Bad:
  • It is only a one year situation.
  • Can create tension within the team if there is more than one walk on player.
  • If the SA/family interprets this award to be annual or questions why the scholarship would go to another player the next year.
If you happen to be a walk on receipt of a one year scholarship, enjoy the compliment your coach has given you and the financial assistance this provides your family. It could happen again or it may not happen again, but don't think beyond the basics.

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