August 10, 2020

Walk On to Scholarship opportunities...


My daughter has been offered a 2 and 2 offer but the full scholarship are for years 3 and 4 as coach is at 12 counters her first two years. Clearly since the school is not bound by this offer for two years I am concerned given we have all the risk. Coach told us all the right things like he is making a 4/5 year plan with his team and expects her to make an impact right away. Said 3 or 4 times for us not to be concerned that the money comes in later years - as long as she is working hard and progressing she has zero to worry about. He is on a 4 year contract with possible 1 year extension. The school checks all the boxes my daughter wants in a school and she can get some academic merit to help years 1 and 2. 

Feel like we just have to make a bet on the coach and my daughters ability to add value. Are we being naive or dumb to accept this offer? I mean this coach  is very well respected and I would think if he or any coach made a living out of promising and then taking away money it would catch up to them soon.

Appreciate your thoughts?


The 2 + 2 or 1 + 3 or some type of walk-on with promise of athletic scholarship scenario has become more prevalent in recent years.  General speaking, any "walk on to scholarship" offer should be based on the academics and non athletics attributes of the school.

Often, the walk on to scholarship is used with the Libero position, as college coaches can be hesitant to provide one of 12 NCAA Division I full scholarships to a freshman Libero.  It has become common place to have a few Liberos and/or Defensive Specialists on the roster, but the athletic scholarship is not awarded until the upper classmen years and after one player has emerged.

A few things to keep in mind:
  • Any verbal scholarship offer is just words and is not real until the scholarship papers have been signed.
  • As shown by our current extreme, unforeseen things happen which can change the equation.  Now, I didn't have world pandemic on my bingo card, yet the USA collegiate governing bodies are still trying to sort through the 2020 spring sport roster/scholarship adjustments, while trying to figure out what the heck we are going to do with collegiate sports this fall and winter!
  • Less extreme is a coach getting fired, players getting hurt/quitting/flunking out which result in a program needing to recruit and scholarship another position or player.
  • It DOES turn out the way the coach promised - We can't say all the time or most of the time or some of the time because there is no way to track these walk on to scholarship promises.
  • As a walk-on, you do have access to scholarship support which is not athletically based.  Depending on the recruit's academic status (grade point average and SAT/ACT scores), community service and family financial status, good scholarship packages can be arranged by the school's admissions and financial aid offices.
Circling back to an earlier statement - A player should only pick a walk on to scholarship offer if the school is a great fit outside of the volleyball team.  Hope for the best and plan for the worst.  The best is everything works out as offered and everyone lives happily ever after.  The worst is the volleyball life is garbage but the school is such a good fit, that being a college student (instead of a college student athlete) is a great experience!

You made a couple of statements which merit a deeper dive:

"Said 3 or 4 times for us not to be concerned that the money comes in later years - as long as she is working hard and progressing she has zero to worry about." - This gives the coach an 'out' to not award the scholarship after 2 years. Of course, collegiate athletes need to work hard and improve their skill sets, but it opens the door to the scenario where another player could be awarded the scholarship because they are "better" or have worked "harder".

"Feel like we just have to make a bet on the coach and my daughters ability to add value." - Absolutely correct.  The number one job of a college coach is to win and they win by recruiting very good volleyball players.  If a coach believes a player will make their team better and will help them win, then they will recruit that player.  There have been many players that I thought were great young people, with outstanding academics, a wonderful attitude and had great parents, but they did not have the physical skill sets to make my collegiate team better, so I did not recruit them.

Be objective and subjective - Is the school a great fit for your daughter completely outside of the volleyball program, and does your gut tell you that the coach can be trusted?  If both answers are yes, then move forward with confidence and enjoy the life of being a collegiate volleyball family.  If any answer is no, then don't commit.

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