March 23, 2020

Information on College Program's Recruiting Needs

Where can I find a list of schools and their recruiting needs by position and year? I thought Rich Kern used to have that listing but I can't find it anymore. 

Thanks for your help.


My best answer would have been Rich Kern, but I have not been on his website for a while.  

The challenge with getting a listing of recruiting needs by graduation year and position, is today's college volleyball recruiting environment is fluid.  Back in the day, when I was young and beautiful, there was a certain predictable pattern with recruiting; graduating a setter and outside hitter in Spring 2020, meant that a college program needed to recruit a setter and outside hitter in Fall 2020.

But, like my youth but not my beauty, that is no longer the case. Recruiting fluidity is significantly influenced by:
  • There are more head coaching job changes occurring than before.
  • Unfulfilled recruiting process expectations.
  • Ease of transferring.
  • Stuff happens.
Job Changes - When a head coaching job change occurs, there will be roster changes.  Each head coach brings their own coaching philosophy and this coaching philosophy can only be implemented by the players.  The Old School (You're my boy Blue!) player philosophy was that the new head coach would keep all the current players and if they did not fit the new system, they would be practice players but would stay until they graduate.  Now, it is commonplace that players which do not fit the new system are 'encouraged' to transfer.  

Also, it is my impression that the number of job changes seem to be increasing each year; from new hires only staying a couple of years, to power conference job changes, to last minute retirements from long term coaches. I don't think families realize the actual salaries of head volleyball coaches - Sure, the power conference coaches are doing ok, but there are 1700+ other head coaches who are not putting gold coins into their retirement accounts.  Power conference or not, each college volleyball head coach has to manage a roster of 15+ teenagers, intrusive parents and cumbersome athletic administrators - I know way too many college coaches, which just reach the point that the salary does not justify all the negativity which they have to manage.

Recruiting Expectations - The most important job of a college volleyball coach is recruiting.  It is not training, it is not mentoring, it is not encouraging academic excellence (that is the promotional and recruiting propaganda we use).  If we recruit well, we keep our job and cash a check, if we recruit really well, we can get a raise or get a better job, if we recruit poorly, we get fired.  No matter how good of a coach I am, I can't make a 5'7" outside hitter a 6'2" outside hitter; I can't make a bad passer a great passer; I can't fix a bad armswing - College coaches refine talent, we don't create talent.

With this reality in mind, understand college coaches are doing everything they can to get a talented player to commit (short of cash payments, which is reserved for other NCSA sports).  This can easily create unrealistic expectations from a recruit/family about playing time, travel roster, playing position, athletic time commitments, academic support, quality of the coaching staff, support of the coaching staff, etc.

But, it is not all the college coaches fault's; families can all to often come in with rose colored glasses and hear/see what they want to see versus what is the reality.  From playing time, to academic courses, to type of campus, to team culture; these are all areas where I have seen families not be realistic during the recruiting process and the reality of college volleyball and school can be a shock to the system once they are a freshman.

When expectations on either side of the street are not met, then the result is to make a change of programs/schools.

Ease of Transferring - With the NCAA Division I transfer portal and the newer mindset of administrators and college coaches outside of DI, transferring does not have the stigma or even negativity of the past.  When you factor in the digital age of video and communications, college transfers are now just another recruiting category.  If a player is unhappy about not starting and doesn't want to make the effort to become a starter, they just transfer to another school.  If a coach is not happy with the talent level of a player and does not want to make the effort to train them to be better, they just have them transfer.  The college players and the college coaches are not going to advertise their transfer desires/objectives outside of the program, so potential recruits can't see what a program may really need.

Stuff Happens - As simplistic as it may sound, stuff happens.  A player flunks out, the volleyball budget gets cut and head coach as to eliminate off campus recruiting, a player gets homesick and leaves mid semester, an assistant coach up and quits who ran the recruiting for the program, a world pandemic occurs which forces the NCAA to grant an extra year of eligibility to spring athletes, etc.  Every example above will change the recruiting needs and ability of a volleyball program.

Generally speaking, there is no predictable pattern for recruiting years and positions.  College coaches recruit for every position each year, scholarship and non-scholarship, because that is today's college volleyball environment.  Families must take this same mindset and pursue their recruiting objectives under the belief that each college program is recruiting each position every year!

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