College Volleyball Scholarships & Recruiting Information

Instructor: Christopher Sailus

Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

In this lesson we explore the world of college volleyball and the scholarships offered to both men's and women's teams. We also discover a few good tips for the recruiting process.

Volleyball

If you've ever played volleyball, you probably did it outdoors, in sand or on a beach. It is a fun pastime you can play with your friends to get exercise and enjoy yourselves on a warm summer day. But when it is played indoors, the game is very different. At clubs and high schools across the country, the game is played between teams of six players and is a high-intensity, complicated game. There are fakes and spikes, blocks, and even dives.

If all of this is old news to you, and you excel at volleyball on your high school team, you may be thinking about using your skills to help pay for your college education. This is certainly possible, and the rest of this lesson will give you important information on volleyball scholarships and the recruiting process.

Scholarships: Men's Teams

In volleyball, the scholarship scene is remarkably different for men and women. There are far fewer opportunities for men. In many places around the country it is viewed primarily as a women's sport. As such, many high schools across the country only field a women's team and use it to offset football (primarily a man's sport) and satisfy Title IX requirements.

Title IX is the shorthand term for a set of 1972 regulations that attempted to eliminate gender and racial bias in American life. Since their enactment, the rules have been used to ensure that an equal number of opportunities exist for men and women in high school and college athletics.

This reality means men's volleyball often gets short-changed at both the high school and collegiate levels. For example, whereas in 2016-17 more than 440,000 women participated in high school volleyball teams, only 57,000 men did the same.

At the collegiate level, there is a similar disparity. Only roughly 180 schools field men's volleyball teams, and of that only about 75 offer scholarships. The number of scholarships these schools can offer depends on the division in which they play:

  • NCAA Divisions I & II: 4.5 scholarships
  • NCAA Division III: 0 scholarships
  • NAIA: 8 scholarships

For all men's divisions, volleyball is considered an equivalency sport, meaning that coaches can divide scholarships up in infinitely different ways so long as the total amount of scholarships offered comes in under their allotted cap. For example, an NCAA Division I coach could offer 9 players 0.5 scholarships each, or offer 3 players full scholarships and another 6 players 0.25 scholarships each.

Scholarships: Women's Teams

Female players on the other hand have a wealth of opportunities available, with over 1,800 schools fielding women's teams. Of these, however, only about 850 offer scholarships, with many teams competing in the NJCAA or NCAA Division III, neither of which offer players scholarships. Teams playing in the other divisions can offer the following maximum scholarships:

  • NCAA Division I: 12 scholarships
  • NCAA Division II: 8 scholarships
  • NAIA: 8 scholarships

Volleyball in the NCAA Division II and the NAIA are equivalency sports; in NCAA Division I, however, women's volleyball is a headcount sport. This means that each scholarship offered has to be a full scholarship. With the average Division I team having 16 players, if you are good enough to get attention from Division I coaches, that means there's a good chance volleyball will pay for your entire education.

Recruiting

While the difference in scholarships makes the process somewhat different, there are a few rules of thumb that apply to all potential collegiate volleyball players.

Do You Measure Up?

As anyone who has played a sport can tell you, size matters. This is as true in the recruiting process as it is on the court. The nature of volleyball requires most players to be taller than average, with the notable exception being defensive players (a specialist position called the libero). So, if you aren't above a certain height, it's very possible coaches won't even track you, unless you are incredibly talented.

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