My daughter has been tabbed an 'elite' 2018 MB, is being pursued by most of the top 10 schools, and has been offered 'non binding' offers for a 4 year scholarship starting in 2018, by most of the schools she has visited, and a few others that she has been talking with on the phone but has not had time to visit. She has been advised by her club to get her list down to 10 schools by the start of 10th grade (she is very close to getting it below 10, not easy, as the list this past spring had over 50 schools that wanted her to visit, and/or told her she was their top recruit for 2018), three schools by next spring, go to those three schools for camp and choose by start of junior year (feel free to weigh in on that advice). She started taking unofficial visits last fall (9th grade), and has now visited 12 schools, is scheduled to visit two more this fall, and if needed more in the spring before she narrows the list to 3.
When a school tells her she has an offer, most have told her 'this is an offer that is not going to be given to anyone else, please continue to stay in touch, and update us on where we stand (i.e. how many schools she is still considering)' and a couple have said ' it will not be offered to another MB until _____'. From a couple of the high profile programs we hear (sometimes from them directly, but as often we hear it through other parents of other PSAs, or friends of those parents, or from the girl herself told to our daughter), they have offered another MB for that same year.
My question: How should we handle this? Is this actually how all/most schools handle offers, but they are not all as transparent about it? Our daughter has asked us to let her do all the interfacing with the coaches, but she is not comfortable asking questions that may be preceived as confrontational ("awkward for them" is the words she uses), and so has not.
College volleyball programs can use the white lie in recruiting - "You are our number one recruit and this scholarship is only being offered to you", "This scholarship is your until July 17, 2016", "You smell terrific", etc, etc, etc. Their objective is to make the recruit feel special and thus, emotionally committed to that school/coach.
When I was a DI coach, I put an exclusive window on the scholarship offer - It was hers for 2 week or 1 month, etc, etc, etc., but rarely did I actually wait that entire time period before making the same offer to the #1.01 recruit. The reasoning being I could not take the change that #1.01 would wait for my scholarship offer. I also wanted to exert a small amount of pressure on the recruit.
The schools that say the offer is not going to be "given to anyone else" are not being truthful - For a coach to actually do that would be recruiting hari-kari. While it may not be told simultaneously to 10 recruits, I doubt they are waiting 1 month before saying the exact same words to another player.
Some programs go the other direction and exert heavy pressure on players, by having a 2 week offer that get pulled at the end of the 2 weeks (or 1 or 10 days or 1 month). This is great for the college program because they can laser target recruits and not take a chance of having a player string them out, but terrible for families because the pressure is enormous on a 15 year old (or 8 year old if they are getting recruited by the Big 10).
I once had a player's father tell me a great line, when we were talking about raising children (his was playing for me, and mine was just a toddler) - "trust but verify". That is how you need to handle the recruiting process with your daughter; trust but verify. When your daughter is talking to a coach, it should be on speaker phone. Any email updates she sends (and illegal replies she receives) should be in a family email account.
As 'mature' as teenagers think they are, they are not adults and parents absolutely, positively must be the adult because their children are having serious, adult level money and life conversations with another adult. Think about that (not just you, but parent and teenager which is reading the world #1 website about college volleyball and recruiting); where else in this life would you let a teenager have such a serious conversation with an adult that you really don't know? The coach is not family, they are not a casual acquaintance, they are not a friends of a friend, they are basically a stranger that you can see on a school website with a photo and biography.
If anything, a family should want to present as many 'awkward' questions to the college coaches because it is our job; never be shy or hesitant about asking tough questions to the head coach…never!
The club has given you some good parameters and time table to manage the recruiting process but realize that these are parameters, not absolutes. As a family, your instincts/gut feelings should be followed because there is just not enough time/money/mental capacity to take 30 unofficial visits or realistically equally evaluate 50 interested and quality volleyball programs.
I would disagree with one part of advice from her club; going to camp for recruiting. Families must remember that camp is not real, it is college volleyball Disneyland….smiles, excitement, ice cream, t-shirts, giggles…..this is not college volleyball. Instead of going to camp, better to walk in unannounced to a team practice (in the fall/spring) to see the reality of being on that team.
Good luck in your management, and please be assertive about being the adult in the conversation.