January 14, 2013

College Volleyball Transfer Question


I have read your posts for over a year an learned so much. We have emailed before about my 6'1" MH/RS. The new question is about college.

Our daughter plays for a D2 school as a freshman. We believe she may have made the wrong choice. Since signing the coach hasn't been showing interest in her and has been playing favorites regardless of their ability whether short or long term. He would rather lose games than change out these players.

She had many offers from D3 to D1. At the time she was the #1 choice for the most of the other schools. We did not know how aggressive we could be in the recruiting process and therefore feel we might not have asked pertinent questions.  In the end it came down to a D1 and D2. We met with the D2 coach for hours and believed him to be honest and and truly interested in our daughter. Unfortunately the D1 coach had a family death and the meeting was postponed. Being new to this whole process, we were nervous as to what to do. We  thought if we waited to meet with the other coach, she would lose her chance at the other school. The D1 did say they had no money this year but would have it next year. That school is 3x's the cost of the D2 and we have two other kids in college this year.

She signed with the  D2 school early and was only given a nominal amount and was told that more might be available in spring after fundraising, which we were afraid to ask for. The D2 coach wanted her to play club for him, which had us driving an hour each way and then traveling to FL for AAUs when  it wasn't even on the original schedule. That alone cost more than what she has been given. The D1 coach happened to be sitting next to me at a game in FL and said he wished he had pushed harder for my daughter.

When it comes to the scholarships, what he said he was going to do he didn't. My daughter was given a small amount while I now know others have received a great deal. 

1) How do we go about asking for more and when? She is now afraid that he will give her nothing and give it to the walk on.

2) Is it unethical for a coach to give his daughter a scholarship big or small to play on his D2 team? 

Her coach told us when we met he was looking at 5 girls, her included. with only one other MH, he ended up recruiting 7.  3 MH, 2RS and 2OH. There is also a red shirted  hitter that will be back next season, that is a favorite. This is now part of the problem. He had told her, he saw her as a starter, this season is almost over and she hasn't got much playing time. If it was a freshman thing we could understand but 5 out of 6 players on the court as a standard are freshman. I know that all the attention he gives the specific girls is hard on the other players and is difficult for her and made it even harder to go out bring it. We are not sure what to do? 

At this point she is attending a great school for her major and likes it but is not happy with the volleyball side. Is it wrong for us to speak with the coach as she tried and everything he said was a lie. I know if she were to transfer she would red shirt for a season but the big question is that she hasn't played much. If she went with that choice, what do we do? Her HS/club record is stronger than college at this point, won't that hurt her?

The other schools said if anything changed to let them know but wouldn't they have gotten MH/RS now? I really feel if he had been honest from the beginning we could have made the best decision for her whether it was to play here or elsewhere. My daughter and I have become friends with the wife and daughter (they are best friends) which makes it more difficult. I have been losing sleep over this so any help or insight would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you, T.K.

Thank you for email and I am glad the site has been of help.  I can feel your frustration and concern coming through your questions/information.

My responses/thoughts/information.

1.  A combination of uneasiness, bad luck and the reality of the recruiting process has created this situation for your daughter.  DII coaches endeavor to get as much talent as possible for as little scholarship money as possible; this is just the nature of the DII volleyball recruiting parameters.  It is bad luck that the DI coach had the personal issue and was not able to meet with you. Had you had a bit more experience, or proper support/guidance (from the club coaches, a recruiting service, family member having recently managed the recruiting process), then you would have been more comfortable working through the recruiting process longer.

2.  The college coach is under zero obligation to provide additional funding, and given the fact your daughter has not played a lot (per his own choice), it is hard to argue scholarship increase as a result of great play.

3.  Scholarships are one year renewable contracts, which are reviewed post season and then reissued at the same amount, or an increase or decrease, or not reissued, in the later spring.  The best time to ask for a scholarship increase is in the winter, say February.  I suggest since it is a money issue, and money issues are adult issues, then you should contact the coach via email (for written documentation) and respectfully reference his conversations during the recruiting process about increasing the scholarship amount.

4.  If the coach does not increase the scholarship, then you have solid ground to request a Permission to Contact Letter (mis-called a Release), to pursue a transfer.  Your rationale being that the financial burden is too much considering the current status of your daughter as a substitute with limited playing time; it is better for your Family that she explore other opportunities.

5. That being said, there is more to life than sports.  If you request the PTCL, then your daughter has jumped off the diving board.  College coaches won't let current players who are exploring a transfer stay in the program; they can't go shop around, then come back to their program.  As soon as you request, your scholarship will not be renewed for the sophomore year.  You referenced the fact your daughter is happy (outside the court), likes the school/major and is developing close friendships.  Is this something worth walking away from for more playing time and/or a larger scholarship award?  Maybe yes?  Maybe no?  But, you have to get together with your daughter to remove the 'maybe' from the decision.

6.  NCAA does not make volleyball players sit out or automatically redshirt when they transfer schools - That is for football and basketball.  She would just need to receive the Permission to Contact Letter, contact new schools, then satisfy a specific unit count (per NCAA rules) to transfer to the new school.  This allows volleyball families to try and improve their situation, without being penalized a year.

7.  If you jump back into the recruiting process, you must be very organized, very aggressive, and have a broad open mind to the possibilities.  The good news is, you are more experienced and will understand the subtle nuances of the process better.  The bad news is, there is no guarantee the next school/program will be a better situation than the current program.

8.  If she decides to transfer, then she must request the PTCL immediately following the end of the season, and immediately start contacting potential schools with a linked video, her collegiate transcript, including enrolled classes for the spring, along with getting ready to pay her way to take campus visits.

9.  If she decides to stay, then she needs to suck it up, focus on improving her skill sets, and developing her ability, no matter if he is giving her attention or not.  Any player worth their shoelaces knows what they need to improve upon; they really don't need any coach or a college coach, to tell them for the 100th time to work on hitting line or following through on their passing platform.  Ultimately, it is the player's responsibility to improve; it is the player's responsibility to make then necessary effort to get better.  I know it is hard to see now, but if she is better, clearly better than the next person in her position, she will play.  She has to go beyond comparison to make it obvious, she should be playing.  

10.  There is no rule against a daughter/son receiving a scholarship; I think it is weak sauce because almost every school has a employee benefit which says tuition/fees are waived for full time employees.

Good luck, work your way through the options, communicate effectively with your daughter and make the decision!

Coach Matt

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