John Cook did a short presentation for last week’s AVCA Convention during which he laid out his arguments for moving NCAA women’s volleyball to a Spring season. He started off which essentially calendar arguments.

  1. Too little time to prepare for the season
  2. Freshmen getting thrown in before they’ve been able to settle into student life
  3. Basketball conflicts don’t really change.
  4. Too much competition with pro sports for the NCAA tournament in December, plus exams.
  5. Athletes really only get 3.5 years (assuming no red shirt).
  6. Limited numbers during Spring because no seniors
  7. Can move beach volleyball to the Fall to open up more schools to be able to play.

He also threw in some economic arguments.

  1. Save money by not having to bring players in early
  2. Volleyball will always be second fiddle to football, causing scheduling issues and higher hotel expenses
  3. Only need one Convention – one that would also probably be cheaper to run than in December around the holidays
  4. Improved opportunities for TV contracts away from basketball
  5. Shorter recruiting season (May-July).
The arguments against

By now, regular readers of the blog know I have no problem challenging high profile coaches. 🙂

In this case, here’s where I think you can challenge the case Coach Cook makes for the season change from the calendar list.

  • You can essentially throw out #1, #2, #5, and #6 straight away. All Fall sports, including Football, deal with these same issues. These arguments would suggest we should have no Fall sports.
  • I’d make the case that pre-season for first year players is actually advantageous because they get to develop new friendships before school starts. And they have older teammates who can help them through those new student things that come up when starting college. They’ve also had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with campus.
  • In #3 John suggests that the basketball conflicts aren’t really any different whether you’re talking Fall or Spring. That’s not really true, though. In the Fall, because volleyball is in-season – and particularly in conference play – it’s generally been my experience that its gets priority when it comes to gym time. It would be the opposite for the Spring
  • As for #4, if you have the NCAA tournament in April/May you’re up against NBA and NHL playoffs, as opposed to the regular season in December. Plus you have MLB and MLS going. Really, the only thing you’re not dealing with is NFL and the lesser college football bowls.

Something important John doesn’t mention is the Men’s season. Most of the Power 5 doesn’t have to worry about it, of course. For schools that do have both genders, though, running them in parallel creates some challenges. There are coaches – like me at Medaille – who coach both teams. You’re also now doubling up facilities demands, making the basketball overlap even more problematic.

And let’s not forget about officials! You’re massively increasing demand for them in the Spring if you move the women. This is at a time when there’s already high demand thanks to Juniors, plus men’s/boys’ season.

I think John’s economic arguments are generally stronger than his calendar case. I’m not sure, though, that they’re enough to really sell the move.

Don’t get me wrong! I think there would some real event-based benefits to having the men and women in the same season.

The question I would throw back out there to the volleyball community is who can we improve things – especially on the economic side – rather than simply trying to run away from our challenges?

Definitely share your thoughts on all this!

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager (oversees the national teams) and Indoor Performance Director for Volleyball England, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His volleyball coaching experience includes all three NCAA divisions, plus Junior College, in the US; university and club teams in the UK; professional coaching in Sweden; and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. He's also been a visiting coach at national team, professional club, and juniors programs in several countries. Learn more on his bio page.

    1 Response to "John Cook’s arguments for moving NCAA Women’s VB to Spring"

    • Jason Laird Bibler

      I’m with you. I don’t really think we benefit from “running away from our challenges.” I think this mirrors the conversations with have about recruiting at certain schools; if you want to point to all of your negatives as a program (facilities, scholarships…) then that’s your prerogative, but I think you can make the MOST out of what you have. I would also argue that volleyball needs to be more consistently focused on what we can do to heighten the “selling” of our sport and I don’t think that is a seasonal issue.

Please share your own ideas and opinions.