November 9, 2011

Collegiate Sand Volleyball

Hi Coach,

I am a high school and club coach.  Most of the girls from our club (who go D1) stay in our state on the (southeast coast).  A few of these schools will have sand volleyball this year.  Here are some questions that the PSAs (or their parents) are asking:  what is the benefit of my daughter accepting a scholarship that requires indoor/beach over an indoor only scholarship?   Are there some drawbacks?  If school does not have beach now, can they require PSA to play beach, if they start it after freshman year?

I don't have the answers and the people I usually ask don't seem to know either. Does anyone? The local college indoor/beach players seemed very confused, but said not many schools had sand teams this year.
Philosophically, it seems like the local college is double dipping athletes and coaches.  Can they also double dip for title IX?   "Here is a full ride/salary. Oh by the way, you are required to play/coach beach season also."

Good Luck this November,
HS/Club coach
Thank you for your email and the question(s) you have posed are the same ones that many college coaches are trying to figure out.  As you may know from reading my site, I am very opposed to the NCAA sponsoring Sand Volleyball, because I believe it is nothing more than an equity smoke and mirrors ploy which just results in more work for volleyball staffs and less down time for collegiate volleyball players.

I will be honest that I have not read into the specifics of the protocol with regards to administration and counting of athletes.  This was one of my main criticisms of this whole Sand Volleyball push as orchestrated by the AVCA; they created the NCAA sport without determine the rules/formats/protocol first.  In a sense, the AVCA told the NCAA, "everybody loves beach volleyball, the coaches will love to coach it and the players will love to play it, so let's just make it a sport" and the NCAA agreed because it is an easy way to up the female participation numbers to offset football.

As I have not read, but I will, the NCAA specific Sand Volleyball Rules/Protocols, I can only provide you general information of NCAA rules. 

The NCAA has ranked each sport on a scholarship hierarchy, much like a totem pole.  For example, football is ranked higher than track.  The rationale is that this will keep fast football players being placed on a track scholarship, thus freeing up another football scholarship for use. So, if a male athlete was to legitimately participate in both (which often happens), this SA would need to be carried on football scholarship.

For women's sports, the top is basketball.  When you see or hear of SA's playing both basketball and Volleyball, they are carried on a basketball scholarship.  I actually had a DI women's basketball coach pressure me to recruit basketball/Volleyball players because my team was taller and more athletic than hers. I made her aware (as she had no idea) that they would need to be carried on a basketball scholarship; after this education (scary, huh?), she did not ask again.

I would guess that Indoor Volleyball has been ranked higher than Sand, which would allow Indoor scholarship players to be eligible to participate in Sand Volleyball.  For NCAA DI, I highly doubt there are combination indoor/sand scholarships because of the head count rules of fully funded DI programs; if it was a combo, then this would put the SA over the scholarship limit.  For NCAA DII, there could be a combination of scholarships, but I am not aware of exactly how this would work with DII or even if it could be possible.

As some programs will provide sand volleyball scholarships, if indeed indoor is ranked higher, then a sand scholarship athlete could not participate in indoor.  This would be a heck of a scholarship opportunity!  Think about it; the sand season is not very long because of weather concerns and the end of the traditional spring semester, and in the fall semester, the coaches are all busy with indoor volleyball, so there is no real off season! 

Your questions, as best of my knowledge:

1.  Benefits - If a SA really enjoys both indoor and sand (which I did) then it is a chance to play both in a school supported/funded environment.  Maybe it keeps a player fresh with both sports, and possibly not 'burning' out in one.  Some players/coaches believe that there are some transferable skill sets between the two sports especially in passing and defense.

2.  Drawbacks - No down time and no specialization. If you wish to be excellent at one sport, you need to practice/focus on this one sport.  One of the reasons we do not see a lot of dual sport athletes in the NCAA today, as opposed to 10 years ago, is the full time demands of the NCAA DI sports.  The off season is more intense than before, but since the NCAA has rules about non-traditional season hourly participation, at least the athletes are limited to 8 hours total per week.  If an athlete is a dual sport (and remember that Sand and Indoor are two separate sports, even though the AVCA and the NCAA seem to take a 'wink,wink' attitude toward this separation), then the athlete may be in a 20 hour per week training regimen for a majority, if not all of both semesters, which does not include travel time for competition.  Also, if you really want to be outstanding in something, then you need to dedicate to being outstanding in that sport.  This is not possible if you are spending your non-traditional season actually going full time in another sport.

3.  Require - In theory yes.  If an athlete is an indoor walk-on or indoor scholarship athlete, a coach can easily call sand volleyball skill training or conditioning or just call it now part of the indoor team, and mandate that players now participate in sand volleyball.  The coach can tell a player to lift, can tell a player to condition, can have the players do yoga and eat a healthy diet, so what is to keep them from telling the players they now are playing sand volleyball?

4.  Information - Everyone is very confused because the AVCA ramrodded this through the NCAA as quickly as possible and I don't think the NCAA or the AVCA has really done a good job of explaining what is going on.  You can download a free copy of the NCAA Division I rules manual here or you can search through the site for information.  My understanding is that the NCAA has formulated rules and protocols which should help educate VolleyFamilies as to their options.

5.  Philosophically - Yes, it is blatant double dipping  to satisfy equity concerns.  Sand Volleyball is not being created separate from Indoor Volleyball.  While a few schools may have hired a specific sand volleyball coach and created sand volleyball participation only scholarships, the majority of athletic departments are just mandating that indoor volleyball coaches are now the sand volleyball coach and that the Volleyball SA's are now going to play sand volleyball.  In the end, no significant opportunities are being created for new athletes, no significant employment opportunities are being created for additional coaches.  All the AVCA has done is create more work for the same pay for coaches, and significantly increased the participation time for volleyball players during the school year. Heck of a "coaches association" which actively legislates more work for same pay and greater demands upon the student athletes which we are supposed to be leading.

In closing, I will say that this is part and parcel of why Women's Volleyball continues to lag behind other NCAA sports and this division of support/resources into Sand and Indoor Volleyball will be the anchor that allows Basketball and Softball and Soccer to garner larger percentages of financial and non-financial support on college campuses.  You don't see Basketball splintering their base, you don't see Soccer supporting Sand Soccer, you don't see Softball supporting Slow Pitch NCAA softball - They are focused on what is positive about their sport and doing everything they can to promote that positivity.

OK - Now I need to have some green tea and calm down!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment

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