June 27, 2017

Collegiate Volleyball Start Up Program

Good Morning Coach,

First off - Thank you!!! Your words of wisdom are truly inspiring!

What are your thoughts on a college which is offering volleyball for the first time? There is a DII program just starting at a school that looks interesting to my daughter but we are torn whether or not to jump into the unknown.  She has been offered a MB position at 3 DIII schools (for Fall 2018) which all have long established programs.

While we are not focusing on athletic scholarship money (we are fortunate that she is an exceptional student and are concentrating on the academic aspect of that) it wouldn't hurt to possibly get some $$ for volleyball.



Thank you for the nice compliments about collegevolleyballcoach.com and glad to help!

With start up volleyball programs, which are rare these days, the most important factor to look at is how they are starting up.  Having interviewed with, and had coaching friends interview with, start up programs, there is a wide range of how athletic departments will support the new volleyball program.  Some will scholarship, staff and fund immediately, while others will present a timetable for implementation of support and other schools will say they are working on it.

With a new program, athletes have the chance to be in the unique position of establishing the culture of the program, of being the pioneers of the sport which will go into the athletic department's record books, of coming in with a clean slate and all positive possibilities in front of them.

Of course, the downside is they are the first team and may not have the history of success to draw upon as they develop the program, and depending upon funding, they may not have the resources to garner a winning season anytime soon.

Per NCAA Division II rules, schools are allowed to fund up to 8 athletic scholarships (provided the conference does not have limitations on volleyball scholarships, which some do), which can be packaged with non-athletic scholarships.

I immediately mention athletic scholarships, because that is the critical piece of building any successful DII volleyball program.  If you don't have the scholarship money, you are not going to secure the necessary talented recruits to succeed.  

After scholarship money, you should review how the department is staffing the program.  Are they just going with a head coach for a couple of years or are they allowing for an assistant coach to be hired (not graduate assistant but real assistant coach).  It is tough for a head coach to juggle all the balls necessary to run a successful program; head coaches need assistants!

Lastly, how does the operating budget compare to the other programs in the conference?  No matter year 1 or year 20, a team needs financial support for competition travel, recruiting, equipment, etc.

My advice is to go through the process of evaluating the start up Division II program because it could be a great opportunity.  Just having the opportunity of an athletic scholarship to compliment her academics is worth the effort! 

As with any VolleyFamily and with any potential program, constantly review what is important for your daughter/family (these details change; academics, geographic location, size of school, etc), and then evaluate potential schools in view of your priorities.  

Remember that it is always good to say no thank you to a number of schools before you say yes to that one school.


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