Temple coaches adapt recruiting under NCAA restrictions

The current NCAA dead period prevents coaches from talking with or visiting recruits in person through April 15.

Freshman outside hitter Ilayda Dincer bumps the volleyball during the Owls’ game against Morgan State University at McGonigle Hall on Jan. 23. Dincer is an international student recruit from Ankara, Turkey. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple University volleyball is delaying its recruiting process for its 2022 class to deal with complications created by the COVID-19 pandemic, said head coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam.

“At this point we are making decisions with less information than we had before,” Ganesharatnam added. “Usually we would be done with the 22 class. Timeline-wise we are a little behind.” 

Ganesharatnam is changing his process of recruiting international students this season, as he’s not allowed to see them play, by using Zoom to communicate with them and talking with trusted coaches he knows overseas. 

The NCAA extended its suspension of all in-person recruiting through April 15 due to the pandemic, according to the NCAA’s website. 

During a normal recruiting cycle, Ganesharatnam or an assistant coach would travel to see a potential recruit play at least once before they would officially sign with the Owls. 

Any upcoming international recruits can not make official visits to campus, and Ganesharatnam isn’t allowed to travel to watch them play.  

Ganesharatnam believes one of the consequences of recruits not making official visits is they will be more inclined to transfer later in their career, he said.

“Kids will commit to institutions because they don’t want to wait and maybe they do it without going through this process properly,” he added. “Because of that it might not be the right fit.”  

Teams can start reaching out to recruits over the phone and sending them emails starting on June 15 after their sophomore year, according to Next College Student Athlete, a website that helps student-athletes navigate the recruiting process. 

This season, the Owls’ roster has four international players. Freshman outside hitter Ilayda Dincer is from Ankara, Turkey, senior outside hitter Katerina Papazoglou is from Thessaloniki, Greece, junior outside hitter Miray Bolukbasi is from Istanbul, Turkey, and senior setter Selina Merfol is from Apeldoorn, Netherlands. 

When recruiting Dincer, Temple’s only international recruit last summer, Ganesharatnam wasn’t allowed to travel to visit her, and had to use Zoom to talk to her. 

“A lot of embassies in a lot of these countries were closed, and for good reason, but we were able to find solutions,” Ganesharatnam said. “It was certainly different than the years before, but I feel like nothing is normal nowadays.” 

The conversations they held on Zoom were “fun” and helped convince Dincer to come to Temple after three weeks, despite having offers from other schools, she said. 

The two talked about the benefits of coming to Philadelphia and what playing opportunities she would get when she arrived. Dincer has played in seven sets this season and recorded 11.5 points.

“I always wanted to study in the U.S.,” Dincer said. “I never thought of studying [in] my own country.”

Ganesharatnam heard about Dincer from his connection with coaches and players he met when he played volleyball in Germany. 

Those connections will be pivotal if the NCAA recruiting suspension is extended past April 15 because Ganesharatnam won’t be able to travel and watch potential recruits again this summer. 

Ganesharatnam has a lot of trust in his connections overseas, and he values their evaluations highly, which led him to recruit Papazoglou in 2017 and helped him recruit Dincer, he said.

“It is good to have those connections, especially now,” Ganesharatnam added. “Because you are forced to possibly make a decision on a player you couldn’t see live. In that situation, it certainly helps if you have people you trust.”

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