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What does the Conference Shakeup mean for recruiting and volleyball?

What does the Conference Shakeup mean for recruiting and volleyball?


Come 2024, there will be no more true “Power 5”. UCLA, USC, Oregon, and Washington will
move to the Big Ten. Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC. Stanford, SMU, and Cal to the ACC. The
Big 12 adds more teams from the West in Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, and Utah.
The only remaining members of the Pac-12 conference are Oregon State and Washington State. but,                                                                                                            there have been rumors that they will join forces with the Mountain West schools-
UNLV, San Diego State, Hawai’i, and Colorado State to name a few but they will have a better idea of their future                                                                                       within the next month, reports say.

All this conference realignment is driven by football. But how does the movement affect
volleyball? Traditionally, the Big Ten and Pac-12 are the dominant volleyball conferences. But in
recent years, the top of the ACC have separated themselves with Louisville and Pitt. Kentucky’s
National Championship run in 2020* was the SEC’s first volleyball national title. Texas is
consistently at the top of the Big 12. But with conference newcomers Houston, BYU, UCF, and
Cincinnati, it may shake up standings for the Longhorns’ final year before moving to the SEC.
Here is a list of what Division I conferences will look like in 2025:

So, how does this impact recruiting? Conferences can be one of the deciding factors when an
athlete is being recruited. Prospects may want to play in a conference where their loved ones
can see them play often. It's great for a California kid who is considering a Big Ten
they play a few games closer to home each year. Some schools may gain interest from
prospects they thought were out of reach strictly due to the conference they will play in. When it
comes to inter-conference rivalries, some schools may lose that due to the shift. But, with
volleyball, it is easier to schedule these in the pre-conference season like Louisville and
Kentucky do annually.

New conferences can mean more money for universities. More money turns into facility
improvements...big for recruiting and that wow factor. Athletic departments aren’t only adding
more seating to competition venues, but revamping sports medicine facilities and sport-specific
practice facilities. This helps alleviate the practice time conflict at some schools. If volleyball is in
season, but basketball is practiced in the same facility and times overlap, that is a headache to
deal with. The bar is raised high in these Power 5 conferences and the shifting universities will
have to keep up.

Football is king at most schools, if they don’t have football, it’s probably men’s basketball. However
the exponential growth of volleyball and attendance records are finally turning school
administrators’ heads. The fan investment in our sport is there. The youth participation is
blowing out any other sport. The national TV network coverage is improving. Conference                                                                                                                     realignment can be great for most of these schools. Athletic departments will need to see the
demand, or they will fall behind in the recruiting race.

Kaitlyn Myers