At this point in time, there has only been one academic study conducted on the topic. “The Effects of Early Recruiting on NCAA Division I Volleyball Student-Athlete Retention” (2015) is a master’s thesis by Robert C. Hunter, Jr. (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). Prior to that, Rich Kern, the administrator of RichKern.com, published a study in 2007 that examined the relationship between transfers and early commitments (utilizing 2,410 student-athletes). Hunter uses Kern’s data set for his study and states, “Kern found that, although some later months showed higher rates of transfers, the overall trend was not that early commitments are transferring more than the student-athletes that wait” (Hunter, p. 24).
In 2011, Kern updated his original study, using information gathered on student-athletes from 2004-2009 for a grand total of 7,106. “He concluded that, yet again, the supposed link between early recruiting and transfers was unsubstantiated, as only 8.8% of athletes who committed between 29-48 months before their enrollment date then transferred, which is half of that of regular students who enroll at a four-year institution” (Hunter, p. 24).
The transfer argument, many opponents believe, stems from the sharp increase in volleyball student-athlete transfers from 2010 to 2013. “In 2010, there were 94 student-athletes who chose to transfer; in 2013, there were 266 student-athletes who changed institutions, according to RichKern.com” (Hunter, p. 4).
There have been a plethora of studies done, beginning in 1971, on the decision to leave a particular college before the completion of a degree (but not necessarily studies done to determine the reasons why students transfer institutions): Spady, 1971; Bean, 1980; DesJardins, Ahlburg, McCall, 1988; Rishe, 2003; Ferris, Finster, & McDonald, 2004), Rivera, 2004; and Crom, Warren, Clark, Marolla and Gerber 2009, all of which can be found on the Internet. All studies focused on the myriad reasons students in general decide to leave college before the successful completion of a degree. One of the earliest studies, conducted by William Spady in 1971, focused on Durkheim’s Theory of Suicide, whereby it was determined that a person was more likely to commit suicide if he/she were lacking integration into the society (Spady, 1971). “Spady applies Durkheim’s theory via a lack of integration into the culture and society of the institution, where students are unable to accept themselves into school” (Spady, 1971), whether it be related to family or socioeconomic status, ethnicity, gender, etc.
Nine years later, John Bean published an article and found “there were different determinants that wkaliwood ere statistically significant for men and women (Bean, 1980). Determinants for females tended to be focused around education quality, developing a routine, and their own commitment to an institution (Bean, 1980). Meanwhile, men tended to value communication and their own satisfaction with the university and education (Bean, 1980). Overall, the researcher found that the decision to leave for women was often more complicated and was more significantly related than their male counterparts, including academic success, development, and housing (Bean, 1980)” (Hunter, p. 19).