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The Solution to Stop the Early Recruiting Epidemic

It’s simple: College coaches need to stop honoring the verbal commitment. Men’s Basketball and Football laugh at the verbal commitment. They know the verbal commitment is non-binding and really “doesn’t mean anything”. Men’s Basketball and Football don’t have this early recruiting issue that we find in volleyball. In Men’s Basketball and Football, senior signing day is a monumental day. How often do we see a prospective student-athlete (PSA) in front of the camera with a number of hats, they tease the audience with picking up different hats, and then finally don the hat of their chosen university…


I am proud to be a part of a sport of professionals where there are ethical standards and a coaching consortium that honors each other and the verbal commitment (for the most part). Most coaches in volleyball, when they see the little “C” next to a junior, sophomore, and freshman player’s name in University Athlete or a PSA on Rich Kern’s verbal commitment list, they stop recruiting that player. But the unexpected consequence of this honor is the recruiting age is younger and younger. 8th graders verbally committing to a university already…yup!

Forbes Article – NCAA Research Shows Pervasiveness of Early Recruiting — Especially Of Female Athletes

It’s girls who are much more likely to be the focus of early recruiting. In only three Division I men’s sports — basketball (34 percent), lacrosse (30 percent) and golf (20 percent) — did more than 20 percent of athletes report having first direct or indirect contact with a college recruiter in freshman year of high school or earlier. But that 20 percent threshold was passed by female athletes in eight sports at the highest level of college athletes”

There are many club directors and coaches that know of a growing group of coaches that are breaking this coaches’ honor code and recruit verbally committed prospective student-athletes. There are many college coaches that know “who those coaches are” and have lost recruits to those coaches. Unfortunately, the more recruits that are lost, the growing number of coaches that are breaking the honor code.

I might be too honest of a coach and will not be one to break the honor code until it is done by all. I believe that if college coaches stop honoring the verbal commitment, this early recruiting epidemic will reduce dramatically. The NCAA is trying to curb early recruiting – DI Council introduces early recruiting proposal Legislation would change dates for campus visits 

In my opinion, it’s on us, the college coaches, to stop the epidemic. I have spoken with so many coaches from the top teams of NCAA Division I, mid-majors, smaller D-I’s, Division II’s, etc. that all lament, “Recruiting so young is ridiculous, but if we don’t, someone else will get that player…”.

So how do we stop it? I believe it’s got to come from our coaching association the AVCA. The AVCA acts on behalf of the coaches and as coaches, we need to put this movement in front of the AVCA. The AVCA in turn, would make an announcement that a majority of college coaches, for the best interest of prospective student-athletes and their own collegiate program (less transfers, better recruiting visits, the right fit, etc.), have decided to no longer honor the verbal commitment.

Sounds simple again, but I know there will be mixed emotions from many coaches who agree there is an early recruiting epidemic. Some coaches may not want to immediately implement this movement because they already have prospective student-athletes that have committed to their program as juniors, sophomores, freshman, 8th graders, etc. If that is the case, the AVCA could make the announcement that NOT honoring the verbal commitment will begin in 2020.

I’m not smart enough to think of or know the negative consequences to this movement, and certainly something to be discusses among the coaches. But I have spoken about this to many college coaches and have only had positive feedback about this movement. Happy to hear your thoughts.





  1. I agree. I find it amusing that we think we are smart enough to know how good a kid will be not in 6 months but 3 years from now. Obviously there are the prodigys that live up to the expectations, but the overwhelming majority fall short of the projected potential. I don’t think anyone is to blame its just a natural progression. Hopefully we can begin to correct this so that the kids can enjoy the process instead of stressing about it.

  2. Agreed. Hopefully we can find and agree to a resolve soon. I feel like this is politics, where a lot is being said, but nothing is being done.

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