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Proposed NCAA Legislation: A Call to Action for Volleyball Clubs


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Recently, the AVCA published an article in its blog regarding proposed legislation that could directly affect how PSA's are recruited. With over 85% of collegiate volleyball athletes being recruited at the club level, the proposed legislation is a call to action for clubs in the area of education. This article is not meant to incite, divide or propose that the legislation is detrimental to the PSA's future in collegiate sports...but to propose that the systematic 'education' of parents, PSA's, club directors and recruiting coordinators could be a starting point for change.

When you think about defining what 'education' means... do you think of concepts of teaching, enlightening and a process of inquiry, discovery and instruction? So what comes to mind when you hear the word 'legislation'? Do you picture the scales of justice, lawmakers with large bound manuals, restrictive measures, or ways to control behaviors and processes for the benefit or detriment of an individual or group?

Mirriam Webster defines 'education' as the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction... or an enlightening experience. 'Legislation' is defined as...the action of making laws or the laws made by a legislator or legislative body.

Both words can be used as a noun and verb and for the purpose of discussing the collegiate recruiting process we will look at both definitions and the important role that education has in a PSA's (prospective student athlete) future.

In the recent AVCA blog article, Coach Becker writes.."On September 30, 2016, the NCAA Released their Publication of Proposed Legislation. While the perception may be that the NCAA makes up the rules, all 105 proposals come from one of the 32 Division Multi-Sport conferences. Once the proposals are reviewed, they are sent out for member institutions to examine, and opened up for comment. Finally, they are voted on in April of 2017 to see if they should go into effect." Of all 105 proposals, here is one that could directly affect the 'recruiting process' of collegiate volleyball PSA's.

PROPOSAL 2016-30: Telephone & Unofficial Visits

- No contacts, telephone calls (place or received), and no official or unofficial visits until September 1 of the prospect's junior year.

- This is part of a package put forward to slow down recruiting

- This is to "close loopholes in recruiting legislation that are making it possible for institutional staff members/coaches to develop relationships with PSA's (and their families) for the purpose of recruitment prior to the first permissible date to initiate communication with them."

Offering more comprehensive education to our athletes & families is a key to 'slowing down the process' that is currently being scrutinized as an issue with PSA's and college coaches. From my firsthand experience, this process is accelerated at increasingly faster pace due to the lack of knowledge on the part of the PSA and their families.

At Munciana, we are currently in our second season of our new 'recruiting initiative' that includes, education, communication and the building of relationships with collegiate programs. It is not a perfect process and I do not propose we have all of the answers, but an evolving one that continues to advance the 'education' of our young athletes. I would like to address some components of Proposal 2016-30's, examine the pros and cons, and offer some suggestions for education initiatives with PSA's.

PROPOSAL 2016-30 TELEPHONE AND UNOFFICIAL VISITS

No Contacts, telephone calls (place or received) and no official and unofficial visits until September 1 of the prospects Junior Year.

Insight: 
PSA's in 2017, have unlimited access to information. Their world is driven by what they can instantly glean from their PDA's. They are aware of what collegiate opportunities are head of them both from an academic and athletic standpoint. Many high schools currently offer 'college planning' sessions to students their Freshmen year. They begin the process of educating the freshmen from day one in high school on the academic opportunities available to them in college and how to navigate the process. If the student is also an athlete and their goal is to play collegiate sports, having some access to the coaching staff from an informational standpoint as a freshmen and sophomore would be beneficial in their process prior to Junior year.

Below are just a few pros and cons to consider:

Pros

    • PSA's have two full seasons (high school & club) without focusing on recruiting efforts which include calls, emails & unofficial visits
    • Competition level increases for the younger age groups (Freshmen & Sophomores)
    • More equitable recruiting opportunities across all divisions

Cons

    • College coaches will be put in a position to bombard Junior athletes with communication beginning Sept 1, which can be difficult for the PSA to manage as they begin their Junior year of high school athletics and typically known to be the toughest academic year of high school
    • PSA's will have a shorter period of time to consider collegiate athletic offers with limited deadlines
    • Undue pressure put on PSA's to make quick decisions and spend less time 'investigating' the right opportunity

Education Initiative:
A key part of our recruiting process at Munciana is to meet with the PSA and their parent(s). The goal of this meeting is two-fold; getting to know the PSA's long term goals (academically & athletically) and to 'educate' them on our process, how each division recruits, NCAA rules, communication (verbal & written) and encouragement to 'take their time to discover opportunities and also who they are as student-athletes'. It is imperative they leave the meeting understanding that it is 'okay to wait' and the 26,000 plus opportunities that are offered through all divisions are ever changing based upon needs and shifts in collegiate programs. If it is 'their goal' to play at the collegiate level, we need to educate them and their parents on the opportunities and encourage that 'self-discovery', which includes communicating with college coaches at the time that is appropriate for them. In no way in the process, do we encourage PSA's to make early verbal commitments, but there will always be the exception and that is determined by the athlete and her parent(s).

This is part of the package to slow-down recruiting.

Insight:
'Slowing down recruiting' could be achieved through education & limited access'. If they are allowed to 'investigate' a school academically with the possibility of having limited access to the college coaching staff, for example: 'limited calling or information periods' just as there are limited recruiting periods. This would allow PSA's to gather information as freshmen and sophomores and build their target lists and be prepared to fully communicate beginning Sept. 1 of their Junior Year.

Education Initiative:
Effective dissemination of information and Management of the process, concise and consistent communication by club personnel (directors, coaches, recruiting coordinators). I communicate with dozens of college coaches from all divisions on a daily basis. In my, experience, collegiate coaching staffs do not advocate or push for access to younger and younger athletes. Now, with that said, they do express interest, want to know what the PSA's goals are and are respectful and adhere to NCAA rules regarding contact. A large portion of their communication is in response to athletes reaching out to them, inquiring about opportunities and asking to talk with them.

My goal as a Recruiting Coordinator at of one of the top clubs in the country is to continue to educate our PSA's and act as an intermediary between them and the college program. When they are ready to communicate and discover what programs have to offer them, then we begin. Each PSA has their own journey, mature at different rates, different aspirations and with the proper guidance will be able to manage the recruiting process in a timeframe that is right for them.

The goal of Proposal 2016-30 is to close loopholes in recruiting legislation that are making it possible for institutional staff members/coaches to develop relationships with PSA's (and their families) for the purpose of recruitment prior to the first permissible date to initiate communication with them."

Insight: 
Current NCAA rules states that all forms of communication can be initiated by College Coaches on September 1st of the PSA's Junior Year. Currently PSA's are allowed to initiate contact with college coaches and take unofficial visits (DI) and official visits (DII) prior to Sept. 1 of their Junior year. The loophole aiming to be closed is the 'communication initiation by the athlete and the restriction of unofficial and official visits' during freshmen and sophomore years'. The question to ponder is, does this impede the PSA's ability to make an informed decision under an imposed abbreviated timeline as a Junior? Definitely offers up some opportunity for debate of the pros and cons!

Education Initiative:
Proposing change through education and legislation can only be achieved through open and forthright communication and should be the goal of all individuals that are involved in the PSA's recruiting journey. From club personnel to college coaches, to governing bodies, our focus must be to educate and communicate. Our goals should be uniform with the PSA's decision making at the forefront and with the hope of making an informed decision. You could say it is right and privilege of every student athlete that is ready to take on the recruiting process irrespective of whether they can or cannot communicate with a college coach as a freshman or sophomore.

As Coach Becker also indicated, according to richkern.com, there are approximately 67 PSA's that are verbally committed in graduating years 2019/2020. With 26, 915 collegiate women's volleyball players (scholarshipstats.com) that currently equates to .24% that committed as possible 8th graders and freshmen. A trend analysis would indicate that such startling low percentages do not indicate a 'trend'. It simply shows that there are young PSA's out there that are ready, and do make informed decisions that are right for them.

There are many opinions on both sides of this debate...both of which are valid and should be respected. Personally, I will always be on the side of the student-athlete and what serves them best through the process of learning.

"learning is the only thing the mind never exhausts, never fears and never regrets"...Leonardo da Vinci

For more education on the volleyball recruiting process, click here.

About the Author

Patty Costlow is the Recruiting Coordinator for Munciana Volleyball, a long time JVA member club located in Muncie, Indiana.


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