March 23, 2011

Division III Volleyball Rules

Dear Sir:  

I have a bet with a friend....he says a Div III college women's volleyball coach is allowed to watch, direct, run drills and make player substitutions during the off season in Feb/March when the players are just working out and staying fit and playing games to keep their skills up. I say no coach is allowed to even look through the window of the gym while the players are just playing "for fun" and running their own drills and making up player rosters for practice games.  Who is right?  I cannot believe that a coach would have the guts to ruin what the women feel is a "fun time" to relax and just play volleyball without the coach judging them on every move.  Aren't there serious NCAA or conference santions associated with a coach who can't keep their nose out of unofficial volleyball practice time in the off season?  This is not the week when the girls actually represent the school in a spring tournament.  I would appreciate your response and any information concerning the restrictions of Div III coaches during the off season. 

Thank You.  JS

Having searched through the database for NCAA Division III Volleyball, which you can search through online, this is what I have determined:

1.  The Non-Traditional season may not start before February 1st.

2.  The total number of weeks for DIII Women's Volleyball is 18 weeks, with the Tradional and Non-Traditional seasons combined for this count.

3.  There can be one date of competition for the Non-Traditional season.

4.  Outside of the Volleyball season (either declared Traditional or Non-Traditional)......

Student-athletes and members of the coaching staff shall not engage in athletically related activities outside the institution's declared playing season per Bylaw

The following are considered athletically related activities: (Adopted: 1/10/91 effective 8/1/92)
(a) Practice, which is defined as any meeting, activity or instruction involving sports-related information and having an athletics purpose, held for one or more student-athletes at the direction of, or supervised by, any member or members of an institution's coaching staff. Practice is considered to have occurred if one or more coaches and one or more student-athletes engage in any of the following activities:
(1) Field, floor or on-court activity;
(2) Setting up offensive or defensive alignment;
(3) Chalk talk;
(4) Lecture on or discussion of strategy related to the sport;
(5) Activities using equipment related to the sport;
(6) Discussions or review of game films, motion pictures or videotapes related to the sport; or  (Revised: 10/17/06)
(7) Any other athletically related activity.  (Revised: 10/18/04)
(b) Competition;
(c) Required weight-training and conditioning activities held at the direction of or supervised by an institutional staff member;
(d) Participation in a physical-fitness class (including a summer class) conducted by a member of the athletics staff not listed in the institution's catalog and not open to all students. Such a class may not include practice activities conducted under the guise of physical education class work; (Adopted: 1/10/95, Revised: 10/17/06)
(e) Required participation in camps, clinics or workshops;
(f) Individual workouts required or supervised by a member of the coaching staff. An institutional staff member may design a voluntary (see Bylaw 17.02.13) individual-workout program for a student-athlete, but cannot conduct the individual's workout outside the declared playing season; (Adopted: 1/10/91 effective 8/1/91, Revised: 1/12/04, 1/17/09)
(g) On-court or on-field activities called by any member(s) of a team and confined primarily to members of that team that are considered requisite for participation in that sport (e.g., captain's practices);
(h) Visiting the competition site in cross country, golf and skiing; (Adopted: 1/16/93)
(i) Reservation or use of an institution's athletics facilities when such activities are supervised by or held at the direction of any member of an institution's coaching staff; (Revised: 1/10/92, 1/16/93)
(j) Involvement of an institution's strength and conditioning staff with enrolled student-athletes in required conditioning programs; and (Revised: 1/10/92, 10/17/06)
(k) Observation by an institution's coaching staff member of enrolled student-athletes in non-organized sport-specific activities (e.g., "pick-up games") in the coaching staff member's sport, except as permitted in Bylaw (Adopted: 1/10/05, Revised: 10/17/06, 1/16/10, 7/20/10)

To answer your question, your are correct if the coach is engaging the examples forwarded by your friend outside of the Non-Traditional season.  

Your friend is right, if these examples are done inside the Non-Traditional season.  

The exact answer lies in the 18 weeks.  How many weeks allocated to the fall and how many weeks allocated to the spring.

If you can get your friend to commit to the time segment of outside the spring team practice season, for his examples, then you win.

As for your second series of questions:

1.  I absolutely believe a coach should not be judging every move of their team and allow for fun 'coach free' Volleyball time.  This belief is magnified when considering it is Division III.

2.  There are clear rules about involvement with student-athletes or viewing the student-athletes outside of clearly defined practice opportunities.  Unfortunately for the student-athletes in Volleyball, these are almost never enforced or if a coach is caught doing such a thing, there is almost never a reprimand.  It has become common practice in football and basketball for coaches to engage in activities or watch pick-up games, or take attendance.  Every now and then you will read on ESPN about some football or basketball program being sanctioned for this rule violation, but this is just a drop in the ocean.  At a former school, the basketball program had the facilities people cut a hole into the wall of their office and install a window so they could view the practice facility during pick-up games and take attendance. The AD's knew about it and signed off on the expense and then turned a blind eye.

3.  Some coaches just can't let go; they must manage or control every aspect of their sport/team at all times and they really don't care about the rules.  This disregard for the NCAA rules has been easier to accomplish as of late, because athletic directors are so involved with spoon feeding the football and basketball teams that they lose sight of the Olympic Sport programs (unless we do something to attract attention).  This lack of interest by administrators has allowed the less scrupulous among the College Volleyball coaches the opportunity to run amok of the NCAA rules.  It seems the only time AD's are concerned about Volleyball is when teams are losing (even though the AD's may not understand the bigger picture of why they are having a down season) or if players complain.

In closing, I would say the bigger picture is that the coach does not seem to be following the spirit of Division III athletics.

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