August 6, 2011

College Volleyball Roster size

Hi Coach,

My daughter is in the Class of 2012 and is talking to a D1 school about a possible walk on position. This school is adding 4 players to their roster this year (2011) to make 16 players total. I recently saw that they have two 2012 commits. It looks like 2 seniors will leave and 2 recruits will come on in 2012 to make 16 on the roster again. The school will have 6 seniors graduate in Spring 2013.

I can't imagine they'd want to add even one more in 2012 to make a roster of 17. Isn't this too big? At some point the coach said that they're only allowed to travel 15 players.  Do schools ever "leave girls behind" and not take them to their away games? If NCAA rules only allow 15 to travel, does this mean they have to limit their roster to 15?

Do you think they'd try to load up the roster in 2012 because they're graduating so many the following Spring? I'm just trying to figure out whether there could even be a spot for my daughter in 2012.

Thanks so much for your help and your insights!

Volley Mom

Roster size is becoming more of an issue for a number of PSA's to consider.  The quality of walk on players has dramatically increased, which means rosters are getting larger because programs can now put together 15+ talented players each season.  I believe this change is a result of improved training and competition opportunities via Club Volleyball, and of supply/demand.  The supply of good Volleyball players is every increasing (more high schools adding Volleyball programs, more club teams being formed), but there has not really been much of an increase in NCAA Women's Volleyball opportunities.

As for Travel Roster, this is usually determined by the Conference, after viewing the NCAA limit for Women's Volleyball (pertinent to the National Championship tournament).  The NCAA limit is 15 and many conferences reflect conference travel roster size was at 12 because individual schools wanted to try and save money whenever possible.  Our travel limit was raised to 14 last year after someone at the conference office did some Gender Equity math and realized the men's sports where traveling nearer the NCAA limit!!

Since the travel limit is 15, then somebody or bodies will be left behind.  This creates a competitive practice situation, which I believe is a good thing, but it does lead to some players not feeling not too good about everything.  This travel situation is common with football, baseball and the basketballs.  I know at my school, our women's soccer team leaves 4 to 5 players behind each travel trip.

I don't believe the program will 'load up' the roster in the 2012, just because they won't have the 2013 scholarship players available because they still have to graduate and complete the club training cycle (along with the NCAA stuff).  Now, in 2013, they will load up their roster to get their unit back to around 15 players.

The roster spot for your daughter in 2012 will be determined by your daughter. As a returning player in 2012, she will have a 'lead' on any new players, even scholarship new players, just because she has a year of college experience under her.  There is a huge difference in the physical and emotional maturity of a sophomore college player than an incoming freshman.

Don't look as far as 2012, that is too far ahead in the game.  With the mentality of today's College Volleyball, you have to look at everything one season at a time.  Stinks to say that, but that is just the way it is; she may not like the coach, she may hate only practicing and not getting to play, the coach may leave and the new coach may clean the roster, she may get hurt, she may fall in love with a biochemist who happens to have the last name of DuPont.....

Focus on what you can control.  Your daughter needs to be working very hard to get ready for her freshman year, especially as a walk on.  Walk ons have one opportunity to make a great first impression because they don't get a second chance (scholarship players get a second or third or fourth chance)....walk on players have that first few weeks in August to make a statement.  She must arrive in great physical, emotional and Volleyball condition.
Dear Coach,

Thank you SO much for your response! I really wish I'd found this site earlier in our process!

Do you think a DI team might carry 17 girls on their roster? It seems pretty big. But they'll graduate 6 seniors the following Spring.  I think my previous email was confusing--my daughter is class of 2012 so she's not walking on this year, but hopefully next year. She's going into her senior year of high school this Fall.
I have a very basic question also: if a girl is contacting 20 coaches/schools her senior year--sending tape, emails etc, does she also apply to those schools? How does this work? If a school sees her play in the spring of her senior year, and they offer her a spot, does she apply even though application deadlines are past?

Your observations are right on and SO helpful and it's beyond helpful to read through your topics and posts. 
Thanks again!

VB Mom

Quick attack replies (and next time I will make sure to read the opening sentence where you clearly say 2012!):

1.  17 players on a DI roster is no big deal.  I will actually carry that many next year, and I know a number of programs routinely carry 15-20 players.

I caution your PSA to commit to a walk on position for 2012.  There is mucho mas which can change between now and August of 2012.  Walk ons cost the College Volleyball program nothing more than pre-season meal money and clothes, and if the coach can find better, then the current walk on can easily be replaced by the new shiny walk on.  Keep working the recruiting effort, as there is a lot of time left in the 2012 recruiting class.  Don't be panicked to grab a walk on spot this early.....worry about making a walk on decision next spring.

2.  No, a PSA will not apply to all those schools (unless they are Ivy League or elite private non-DI schools where early admission/acceptance is a key component of the school).  They will only apply to the school they decide to attend.

3.  The application deadlines do not apply to college athletes (see exception above).  If I wanted to, I could get a player into school even after school has started, which I have done in the past.  Those deadlines are just to make sure that admissions does not get swamped with last minute applications from the general student body.

4.  College coaches worth their salt and pepper will guide the PSA through the application process and notify admissions about their incoming/applying players. 


  1. can you site the NCAA rule that limits d-1 women's volleyball roster size?

  2. There is no specific rule which limits the size of the roster. The NCAA has established a roster travel size limit for the NCAA tournament of 15, and I think they made an exception to the travel limit rule for the Final Four because I swear I counted more than 9 people on the bench (but maybe that was the Christmas eggnog counting.

    Each conference and/or school can further limit its travel roster size to suit its own preferences. But, in terms of the number of players which may be on the roster, there is no specific NCAA Division I rule; the total roster size would be determined by the coach and/or administration of that DI program.

  3. AnonymousMay 17, 2012

    what is the DII travel roster limit?

  4. Per a DII Head Coach friend of mine, you are allowed to travel a max of 15 players.

  5. So there is no maximum roster size for D2 volleyball? And no travel restrictions until NCAA tournament? My daughters team currently has 19 and has been travelling all of them early in the season.

  6. Correct - Roster sizes are determined by the coach, in conjunction with the Athletic Department. In general, Athletic Departments want the largest possible VB roster because of gender equity/Title 9 concerns. In terms of travel roster, this is set by the conference and or the school. The NCAA tournament limit is 15 athletes for DII


Please stay positive or at the minimum present constructive criticism - Negative comments or attacks upon other reader's opinions will not be posted.