September 16, 2011

NCAA Volleyball Division I Walk-On versus NCAA Division II Scholarship

Dear Coach,

My daughter has been offered positions with her two top schools. One is D1 and the other D2 Honestly she loves them both and the main difference is cost. Is it ok to ask what the amount of scholarship she will receive now and in the future would be?

If a school has used their athletic monies up for this year and has only academic for her, will she receive more than non athletes because there is no athletic monies?

Finally if she verbally commits now, before the NLI in either Nov. or April can the coach change his mind about her going with them?

Thank you for being out there and helping us newbies out! T.K.

Let me try to answer your questions, along with providing some general information/trends.

1.  You do not indicate if she has received a scholarship from both the NCAA DI and DII programs.  By your email, it sounds as if the DII offered some type of financial package, while the DI was a walk on position?

2.  Remember that as a walk on with Division I, your daughter can still receive academic and merit/need based scholarship money which is extraneous to the athletic department.

3.  You MUST ask the amount of the scholarship(s) at each school.  The scholarship information for the DI, if it is not athletic (remember that DI is a head count, so if the program is fully funded at 12 scholarships, then each vb players on an athletic scholarship is on a full), will come from admissions/financial aid and they will tell you the exact amount, the length of each award (annually renewable?), and the qualifications to continue the award (for instance, if you receive an academic scholarship, what gpa or class load must be achieved to continue the aid).  If the DII scholarship includes athletic, then the DII coach must be able to provide you the exact total of the scholarship offer and exactly where each stream of funding is coming from (athletic, academic, merit, need, federal, etc).

4.  Verbal commitments, on both sides of the equation are just words and nothing more.  Even though there seems to be a small trend towards coaches breaking verbals, this tends to be on the elite level when a player does not develop as fast as a coach thought when they committed them early in high school.  The more common situation is a coaching change, where the athlete/new coach, is not comfortable with the current status post change.  Basically, verbals can always change (but it is uncommon), while the National Letter of Intent is the contract which is hard to break.

Hope that helps.



She has been offered spots on both D1 and D2, without walk on or tryouts. D1 has told us they used their athletic monies on this year's players and has none for 2012. I was confused by this as I thought they got a certain number every year.

The D2 has said there would be something, but  if she could wait to sign until April he would know the full extent of what he had to offer. He wasn't sure if she signed in Nov. if the amount could be changed in April.

The differences between schools is about 25,000 cost so scholarships make the difference.
I am of course concerned until she is signed. Both coaches are in early years at these schools but should I bring up a commitment for her if they leave before signing? T.K.

My suggestion is to just wait on everything.  It is still early and positive things will happen between now and the heart of the club season in 2012.

The Division I spot is just a walk on spot - For DI, if there is not athletic scholarship money, then it is just a walk on slot with no accompanying National Letter of Intent.  The DI coach is either saying they have offered/signed all of their 12 available scholarships or if they are not fully funded (don't have 12 scholarships available per the departmental funding, they have used all their available money up to putting 12 players on scholarship - remember that DI is a head count, so only 12 heads/players can be on any amount of athletic scholarship support).

I would be concerned by the Division II coach's response, as he should give you a rather close approximation of what the amount will be - To say "something" and "maybe more later" tells me the coach is planning on using that block of money for other players and will give your daughter whatever is left over.

Wait.  Wait for the recruiting process to unfold a bit.  The walk on DI spot won't go anywhere because your daughter is a free for them and the DII coach wants to wait until the spring anyways, so don't verbal commit to them yet, just say "OK, let's keep in contact and we look forward to hearing the scholarship offer when you have a firm number.

As you wait, don't sit around, keep reaching out to potential programs and stay in communication with those programs which you have established a rapport.  This is the time of the year which things can change in the recruiting realm.  College coaches are finding out critical items about their team; who did not make it back from a injury, who did not show up in shape and is just riding the scholarship or roster spot, what injuries have already occurred this season, what college coaches may lose their jobs because of record or relationship with Athletic Director, what SA's may become academically ineligible, etc.? 

All of these examples creates scholarship and roster openings for the 2012 class.  Only by reaching out to volleyball programs continuously, will you put yourself into a positive position for one of these openings.


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