July 16, 2012

Volleyball Recruiting Rules

Coach -

Love the site.  Thanks so much for all the information that you provide.

Recently (7/9/12) I read the email from a parent of a 17s (Class of 2013) who had a recruiting conversation with a coach during the AAU tournament in Orlando.  You commented that the contact violated NCAA rules.

I guess I'll ask a few stupid questions...hopefully some others will benefit from my shame.

I thought I was beginning to have a general understanding of things, but I do not understand why the contact described was a violation of NCAA rules.  Was it the date (pre-July 1)?  Was it the PSA's age (rising senor)?  The location of the contact (off-campus tournament)?  The "period" we're in ("contact period," I think)?  All of the above?  None of the above?

I was in Columbus with my daughter last week and was stunned by the number of college coaches.  Based on some of your other posts, I gather that Orlando is similar.  Are the coaches there strictly to observe/evaluate?  Are they forbidden from talking directly with the players/parents?  I thought this was a "contact" period through the end of July, but I'm sure I'm missing some nuance.  I've read so much of what is on your site and other locations, and this most recent post made it clear to me that I still do not understand how all of this works.

I had a nice, brief conversation with one college coach at the tournament (not recruiting related - he was kind enough to answer our questions about the USA A2 program when we stumbled across them warming up). Since my daughter is still pre-PSA, I'm pretty sure it wasn't a problem.

Thank you again for the invaluable information you provide.


Thanks for the compliments on the site and I am glad to assist!  I have detailed many of the NCAA Recruiting Rules and Terminology in my book, Inside College Volleyball.

All questions are good, because the recruiting process combined with the seemingly ever-changing NCAA rules can make for confusing times.

Let me break out your questions, and my answers:

1. NCAA rules were violated because the coach had contact, off campus which was before July 1st of the PSA's Senior year.  This is egregious because the NCAA July 1st contact date has been solid for as long as I can remember.  

2.  There are 3 recruiting periods -  Dead, Quiet and open/contact.  But,  you can only contact the appropriate age PSA during a Contact/Open period.  So, even thought June/July is a Contact or Open period, the coach was in contact with the parent of a PSA who was not eligible to be contacted.

3.  Many times, friendly parents of a pre-July 1 senior athlete will come up during a tourney to introduce themselves or reach out to a coach.  This is not illegal by the VolleyParents, and the NCAA has termed this 'unavoidable or incidental' contact.  But, this does not allow the college coach to interact; the college coach is supposed to exchange a quick greeting and then inform the Parent(s) of the NCAA and step away.

4.  Unfortunately, more and more NCAA Division I coaches (and I will just speak to NCAA DI coaches because the DII and DIII rules are a bit different) have become more and more oblivious to the rules.  They understand they won't get in trouble, because it is extremely rare that another coach will contact their athletic directors, and they don't have the honor to follow the rules.  In their mind the ends (getting the inside track on a PSA) justifies the means (cheating).

5.  I constantly warn VolleyFamilies that if a coach is willing to cheat to recruit their PSA, then that same coach will have no hesitation to cut or remove their PSA if they can find a better player down the line.

6.  USA Volleyball National Championships or Junior Olympics (I don't know the term de jour), always be swamped with college volleyball coaches because it is a Contact period and recruiting never ends.  

7.  I feel that AAU's in Orlando may actually draw more collegiate coaches because we know that AAU's will always be in Orlando, and the tournament has a larger number of teams in a tighter time frame, thus we get more bang for our buck.

8.  At AAU's and USA VB, the collegiate coaches are there to evaluate and to show face.  Much of what coaches are doing is just being 'seen'; we know rather quickly if an athlete has the physical ability to play for our program.  What we are doing when we watch an athlete again, and again, and again is letting them know by our presence that we are very interested in them, and sometimes making sure they have the attitude and maturity to play for us.

9.  If an athlete is a senior (or would be graduated by June/July) then a coach can talk with the families.  If it July 1st or later, then the coaches can talk to the rising Seniors and the current Senior families (the players can be talked with after they have been 'released' from the tournament - You are not supposed to talk with a PSA, even if it is a eligible PSA during contact period, until they are done with the tourney).

10.  As long as your daughter or son, has not started high school, then they are not a PSA and you are good to chit chat with as many crazy collegiate coaches as you wish.  Just make sure you identify yourself as a parent who has a player who is not in high school, that way the collegiate coach with honor will be relaxed with you.

Hope the answers helped!

Coach Matt Sonnichsen



  1. AnonymousJuly 16, 2012

    Just FYI, the current term for USAV nationals is the "Girls Junior National Championship", or GJNC.

  2. Why are college coaches allowed to coach club. Also I know for a fact some high profile players are playing for free or hardly nothing at these clubs.some of these players have signed with these college coaches. Isn't this all illegal. It is for other spoets

  3. That is a question which I have asked for many years. I don't agree with allowing DI coaches to coach club, but it is legal if the club player lives within a certain radius of the club. Even with changes to the rules, the college coaches are coaching the younger players but they are in the gym with recruits.

    Basketball and football are not allowed to coach AAU or 7 man. But, I think other sports can coach high school age athletes.

  4. Shouldn't these club coaches be reported if they have given their future college recruits financial benefit, or free ride to play club?? Will the NCAA do anything about this???

  5. "Scholarships" are allowed per NCAA rules, and because of how loose the rule interpretation is, the club programs can 'scholarship' anyone they want. Definitely one aspect of the club program which is being abused.


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