It’s no secret that the volleyball recruiting process can get complicated, especially when it comes to athletic scholarships. One question many athletes wonder is whether volleyball scholarships are even guaranteed for four years. Here are some answers.
A volleyball scholarship offer is not a guarantee
To make things clear, it’s important to note that when a coach extends a verbal scholarship offer, it’s non-binding. Verbal offers are not official—and neither are the verbal commitments that student-athletes might make after receiving an offer. Nothing is set in stone until you sign the National Letter of Intent. However, it’s important to keep in mind that verbal offers and commitments should still be taken seriously.
So, what is a volleyball scholarship?
Athletic scholarships are awarded based on a recruit’s athletic abilities and anticipated contribution to the team. The team’s coach is tasked with deciding who to award scholarships to. Since women’s volleyball is a head count sport, scholarship offers can be full rides, meaning the athlete’s tuition is covered for the full semester or academic year. Some coaches will offer an athlete a two-for-four or three-for-four scholarship, which means the athlete will receive an athletic scholarship two of the four or three of the four years she is enrolled.
Volleyball scholarships can be guaranteed for four years, but it’s not common
The NCAA has allowed colleges to provide multiyear scholarships since 2012. Additionally, in 2015, NCAA D1 colleges from the Power Five conferences (colleges in the Football Bowl Subdivision, plus Notre Dame) agreed to implement a rule that prevented multi-year D1 scholarships from being canceled or not renewed for any athletic reason.
For the majority of volleyball athletes, athletic scholarships are awarded for one year only and renewed annually. However, many coaches and programs see one-year scholarships as not much different than multi-year scholarships, because they automatically renew them if the athlete has no academic or conduct issues. That’s why it’s important to discuss scholarship offers in detail with each coach in order to get a good idea of what your situation will be.
Volleyball scholarships can be rescinded
It’s possible for student-athletes to lose their athletic scholarship, and it can happen for a variety of reasons. The most common scenario occurs when a student-athlete thinks they have a scholarship but they don’t actually have one. This is one of the pitfalls of not understanding the difference between a verbal offer and an actual scholarship.
The National Letter of Intent is the actual binding agreement between a college and student-athlete. That means if you sign an NLI and the coach who offered you the scholarship leaves the program—which can and does happen—your contract with the school remains. However, next year that same offer may not be on the table if there is a new coach and you were awarded a one-year scholarship.
An athletic scholarship could also not be extended to the next year if you get injured (though a medical redshirt for one year is more common), if you get in trouble at school, if your grades suffer or if you’re not performing as well as expected and the coach wants to extend a scholarship to another athlete.
The key to navigating your recruiting process is to have a firm understanding of the kind of scholarship you are being offered so that you’ll be much better prepared to keep yours.
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About the Author
Matt Sonnichsen is the Director of Volleyball and National Speaker for Next College Student Athlete (NCSA), the Official Recruiting Services provider of the JVA. NCSA assists JVA Club Directors and Coaches with guiding their athletes through the recruiting process. Matt has over 20 years of experience coaching volleyball at the collegiate level. Read more about NCSA.