Argument No. 5: Is it worthwhile to recruit a player early and then when he/she arrives at the institution to play volleyball, sits the bench or perhaps doesn’t even qualify academically to attend?
POINT: Hambly, who recently took the head coaching job at Stanford, is actually quite happy with the culture of the school’s athletics department and its stance on early recruiting. At Stanford, coaches cannot evaluate prospects’ transcripts until the students are juniors in high school. And the admissions procedures are strict at Stanford, so that rule is never breached. Period.
“[At Stanford], we are essentially asking kids to wait because we have to,” Hambly explains. “We can’t even really evaluate their transcripts until they are juniors. [Instead], we have to recruit kids to commit to the process of trying to get into Stanford and that’s it. We can’t even offer them a scholarship until they have committed to that process and things are moving. That was one of the main things that attracted me to Stanford. I don’t feel like I have to dive into early recruiting because we flat out can’t. I feel like I was getting dragged into it at Illinois and I didn’t want that.”
And, by the time Hambly is able to recruit, the players will more or less know their position in the pecking order of the team right away.
Anson Dorrance, the storied women’s soccer coach at the University of North Carolina (22 national championships since 1981 and 33 players who have competed in the Olympic Games), told The New York Times (Popper, 2014), that his biggest complaint is that he is compelled to make early offers to high school players who simply do not pan out when it comes time to matriculate.
“If you can’t make a decision on one or two looks, they go to your competitor, and they make an offer,” Dorrance told The New York Times. “You are under this huge pressure to make a scholarship offer on their first visit.”
Of course, the result is then a burgeoning number of student-athletes who come to play at the school and end up riding the pine.
“It’s killing the kids that go places and don’t play,” he said. “It’s killing the schools that have all the scholarships tied up in kids who can’t play at their level” (Popper).
COUNTERPOINT: According to Rosenthal, in this situation, patience is the key. If a coach has to wait for a recruit to make a decision, then so be it. “That is life. If I am recruiting for one position, I would like to work with maybe three to five players,” Rosenthal explains. “I don’t need a list of 20, because ultimately, I want No. 1. And if, for whatever reason, No. 1 doesn’t happen, No. 2 is who I want. If I have to get to No. 20, I’ve go some other things that I really need to work on as far as just being realistic and understanding who we are [at Lipscomb].”