Talking free agency in women’s college volleyball with LSU coach Fran Flory

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Links to stories about the USA’s mixed results last night follow, but first a brutally frank and insightful interview with LSU coach Fran Flory about what I call the problem of free agency in women’s college volleyball. The amount of transfers in Division I is staggering and has been for quite a while. And unless a school decides not to release a player, they are eligible to play right away. The impact on the game is tremendous. Interestingly, in the case of LSU, first-team AVCA All-American Briana Holman left after last season and transferred to Nebraska. LSU did not, however, give her a release so she has to sit out. PrepVolleyball.com had a free story about the transfers this week, and cited a Volleyball Talk stat that there were a staggering 164 transfers in Division I last year. PrepVolleyball.com focused on the most notable, starting with Ebony Nwanebu leaving USC for Texas. This is not just any kid changing teams — she was the national freshman of the year two seasons ago. USC also lost Lauryn Gillis, who went to Wisconsin. For example, Arizona picked up three transfers, two from West Virginia. Long Beach State got three. Missouri got three, two from Nebraska. And on and on. This is Flory’s 18th year at LSU and she hasn’t had many leave her program. The former national-championship player at Texas and head coach at Southeastern Louisiana and Kentucky offered her perspective. “The recruiting process is so early for these kids,” said Flory, echoing a refrain I’ve heard from coaches everywhere. ”I wish there was a way to regulate it, because a lot of it is early decisions that are maybe not thorough decisions. It’s unfortunate when that happens. “And I also think it’s a little bit the culture of the kids, the way kids are brought up these days. Their parents control a lot of things and they’re not forced into adverse situations the first time they face a situation that is tough for them, instead of knowing how to get through it because the parents have taught them how to fail and how to work through failure, so they fail by not playing or not having the same opportunity they thought they were going to have and so instead of working through it because they have not been armed with that information or that ability, they choose to jump and go somewhere else where they can be protected. “I’ve had that theory for years and think that’s a lot of it, but sometimes it’s just not the right match for those kids.” That was the case for Tiara Gibson, a junior who transferred to LSU this season from South Dakota State. She will likely start at middle for the Tigers. Some coaches think they should not be able to watch club players until they’re 15 and/or allow officials visits for juniors in high school. “If it’s going to remain the same official visits their junior year would be vital,” Flory said. “Being able to make an official visit before they make a commitment would certainly be helpful. The parents are having to pay for all this.” She paused. “Unfortunately all the coaches in all sports in this country are under so much pressure to win that coaches tend to find a way around or through every rule that is mandated. If we could all decide on one way to operate, but the pressures of the jobs are so great and we’re making so much money that now it makes it really difficult.” Flory said she’s very honest in the recruiting process. “I’m gonna paint a picture so the kid wants to be here, but I’m also going to paint a picture of here’s the worst case it could be here if you choose here so that when they get here it’s a real evaluation of ‘OK, she said this is possible.’ Unfortunately I think a lot of coaches will sell their soul to get the right kid and when that happens unfortunately those are the kids who have issues.” ——— Speaking of transfers, check out this story in the Missourian about the two players who are best friends and left Nebraska and transferred to Mizzou. Read about Kira Larson and Alexa Etheridge here: ——— The USA women rolled past Peru on Tuesday night in the World Cup in Japan and plays again Thursday against Algeria. Click to read the recap from USA Volleyball. ——— Also Tuesday night, the USA men lost to Brazil again, this time in three, in San Diego. The two teams play against Wednesday night at USC. Click to read the USA Volleyball recap. ——— Also, big high-fives to Penn State men’s assistant Jay Hosack, who got the job as head coach at Georg Mason.

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