College Volleyball Recruiting Newsletter – V



Walk On to a Scholarship

The Walk-On with a promise of an athletic scholarship in a later year(s) has become more prevalent in collegiate volleyball. In this scenario, the player agrees to “walk on” to the volleyball program for a certain number of years, with the understanding that they will receive an athletic scholarship later. A common term is a 1-3 or 2-2 walk on (walk on for one or two years and an athletic scholarship for three or two years). General speaking, any “walk on to scholarship” consideration by a family should be based on the academics and non-athletic attributes of the school.


The walk on to scholarship is often used with the Libero position (but every position has seen this protocol), as college coaches can be hesitant to provide one of twelve NCAA Division I scholarships (or a partial athletic scholarship in NCAA Division II or NAIA levels) to a freshman Libero. It is commonplace 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. Granted, we didn’t have world pandemic on the bingo card, yet the USA collegiate athletic governing bodies are still trying to sort through the canceled seasons of last spring and delayed/cancelled seasons of this fall, which will affect scholarship levels.
  • Less extreme, is a coach getting fired, players getting hurt/quitting/flunking out, which can result in a program needing to recruit and scholarship another position or player (instead of the promised walk on to scholarship 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 and fulfillments.
  • As a walk-on, you do have access to scholarship support that is not athletically based. Depending on the recruit’s academic standing (grade point average and SAT/ACT scores), community service and family financial status, excellent non athletic scholarship packages can be offered 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. Referencing the well-known adage; “Hope for the best and plan for the worst”: The best is the scholarship is provided as offered and everyone lives happily ever after. The worst is the volleyball life turns out to be bad but the school is such a good fit, that being a college student (instead of a college student athlete) is a great experience!Be objective and subjective – Is the school a great fit for your child 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.