November 17, 2016

College Volleyball Transferring....the questions begin....

I was wondering what are the key points to know when looking to transfer schools. Currently I play in the NAIA, I wish to transfer to NCAA preferable but not ruling out the other options either. Is there restrictions rules to follow when talking to new coaches? When should i tell my current coach I am looking to transfer? What do I say to prospective coaches in emails, etc? Should I wait until the season is done to seek out to new schools? Is it worth it to switch schools for the new semester or play Spring with my current school for reps? I am a Freshmen student, it wouldn’t be with it to play JC right?

Very confused and frustrated college athlete,
Thank you for your time.


'Tis the season of the transfer.  Each year about this time, I will get a number of questions about transferring; the rules, the process, the challenges, the outreach, the academics, etc.

A few things to note before any player/family goes down the transfer path (and I mean leaving a 4 year school, as opposed to moving from Junior College to a 4 year school):
  • Why exactly do you want to transfer?  Is it playing time, academics, quality of life at the school, issues with the coach, issues with your team mates, too far from home, etc.
There are many valid reasons to transfer but be very careful when you transfer because you are not playing enough or you don't like your coach.  Playing time is never guaranteed, no matter what any coach tells you. If you are trying to transfer to a college volleyball program of similar stature, then what makes you think you will play at this new school? Also, I know there are a some truly crazy college volleyball coaches, but the reality is almost all coaches have some traits which will be undesirable.  Make sure you are not deferring your personal playing time or volleyball satisfaction upon the coach, instead of taking ownership of what you should be doing in practice to garner this desired playing time.

The grass is not always greener...

  • Understand that you can transfer one time without any penalties (broad statement).
Transferring should not be a knee jerk reaction "...I am not playing, so I am going to transfer...", "the coach doesn't like me, so I am going to transfer...".  A Transfer is the special pass that can get you out of a bad situation but it must be respected.  If you switch schools and the new school/program is basically the same as the old school/program, then you are stuck there.

Please note that there are often conference restrictions on transferring and current schools are within their rights to limit what schools you can transfer to, even if they are not in the conference.  Yes, there is a 'hearing opportunity' to challenge any limitation, but the school seems to always win these hearings.

  • Transferring can be a challenge because of the rules and the recruiting competition.
There are specific rules for transferring with regards to athletic and academic eligibility, not too mention some important documentation and protocol which must be processed.  Also, and this is something most players/families forget, when you are trying to transfer as a 4 year student athlete, you are competing against every other 4 year transfer, and 2 year transfer and high school age athlete.  

And now to your questions:
  • As a NAIA student athlete and a Freshman, you can transfer to a 2 year college or a 4 year college.  If you look towards a JC, then it would be known as a 4-2-4 transfer because you will eventually go back to a 4 year.
  • There are only 3 options for a transfer; NCAA (Divisions I, II, III) Junior College or National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA, which I am the least familiar with).
  • It is my understanding that NAIA and member schools are moving towards a Permission to Contact Letter (PCL), as the NCAA currently has - This means you must gain permission from the appropriate athletic director at your school to contact other schools.
  • Even though you are a NAIA athlete, NCAA schools will also ask for a Permission to Contact Letter  (PCL) before they will allow their coaches to interact with you.
  • A common mix up in terminology is to say "get a Release".  First you need a PCL to reach out to college coaches, and if you have been successful in finding your new school, the new school will request a "Release" from your original institution which says that you would have been eligible at the original school and they release you to play for another school.
  • You should tell your current coach that you are intent on transferring, only after you are absolutely sure you want to leave.  There is no rule against it, but current coaches are not going to allow you to go look and then return to the team.  When you state you are transferring, then it is like jumping off the diving board.
  • Before you reach out to other colleges, make sure you are reaching out to the correct schools based upon your athletic, academic, geographic and social desires.  Remember, be very specific about why you are transferring and what you exactly want out of your new school.
  • When it is time, reach out to college coaches with an email which includes your Permission to Contact Letter, the most current video, your most current academic transcripts and a brief explanation of why you want to transfer (if you cannot clearly define why you want to transfer, then you need to rethink everything).
  • It is very rare that players can transfer mid semester, and almost impossible for freshman to transfer mid semester; the majority of freshman (at any type of school) are mandated to stay for one academic year before transferring).
  • Be aware that academic status is very important.  There are governing body rules (NAIA/JC/NAIA) about how many units you need to have on your transcript at the end of each semester/year, and the corresponding grade point average.  In addition, each school will set its own academic standards which must be met and they are almost always above the governing body rules.  For instance, the transferring school may not accept the Sociology class you took at your original school.  You will need a school specific accepted unit count and grade point average, which is determined by your current academic year status before you can be academically eligible.

So, in summary - Make sure that transferring is the answer, obtain the PCL, reach out with emails containing all your pertinent information and video, then be very consistent and focused on your outreach/communication with potential programs because you are in a still competition to garner your next opportunity!

Good luck!

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