AVP Player Contract Requires Exclusivity, Four-Year Commitment

In 2013, the United States' two major professional beach volleyball tours, the Association of Volleyball Professionals and the National Volleyball League, butted heads over player contracts that prevented athletes from playing in both organizations' events. Four years later, player contracts are on every beach volleyball player's and fan's mind again, as the AVP has required players to sign a four-year exclusivity contract in order to compete on the 2017 tour.

The first sign of trouble emerged when Kerri Walsh Jennings sued the AVP for monies owed, and in an interview with VolleyballMag.com the five-time Olympian also brought up that she was still negotiating her player contract with the AVP, saying, "As of now, the contract is un-signable."

Last week, only eight days before the start of the Huntington Beach Open, the first AVP tournament of the year, many of the tour's top athletes did not appear on BVB Info's list of registered players.

However, now, with the tournament beginning on Thursday, all but a handful of the top athletes have signed the contract and been added to the registration list. Those who refused to sign include Walsh Jennings and her husband, Casey Jennings, Summer Ross and Brooke Sweat, and Bill Kolinske.

Explaining his choice not to sign the contract, Kolinske, who finished third at the 2016 AVP NYC Open with Avery Drost, said, "I didn't think the contract was fair to the players, and it's hard because I love playing the AVP events. The main thing in the contract was the exclusivity of only being able to play [AVP events] and the length of the contract."

Ross and Sweat declined to comment on their choice not to sign.

The four-year contract forbids AVP main draw players from competing in other events, except with permission from the tour.

"I just feel like for 90 percent of the players that can't play internationally, they should be able to go play an NVL event where they can at least attempt to make a living," Kolinske said. "I'm not expecting to be rich from playing beach volleyball, but most players on tour lose money after all is said and done. Top to bottom, the prize money on the table is so limited that it makes it practically unsustainable to play on tour unless you have a 'real' job to fund the lifestyle."

According to BVB Info, Kolinske made $10,700 on the AVP tour in 2016.

"I just feel like it doesn't have to be like this, and players deserve the right to have as many opportunities as possible," Kolinske said. "In the last four years, I've loved playing the AVP, but realistically, it's only 20 days out of the year we're playing on the AVP and we're under contract for all 365. The AVP was very good about dispensation for any other tournaments we wanted to go to, except the NVL. Now the problem is, the NVL is one of the only other ones where you could actually go win a tournament and maybe split $8,000."

Kolinske said the players tried to negotiate more favorable terms, but the timing was bad. An announcement had just come out revealing that the NVL and World Series of Beach Volleyball had teamed up to provide more prize money for the NVL tour this year.

"[The AVP] told us we had to sign by Thursday night (April 27); otherwise, the tour will be shutting down," Kolinske said. "I think that scared a lot of the players, but I think we had a little more strength if we would have stuck together."

Some players have taken to social media to express their support for the AVP. On Wednesday, Casey Patterson and Ty Loomis posted a photo of eight beach volleyball players at the AVP offices with almost identical captions.

[instagram url="https://www.instagram.com/p/BTUSvZClIaq/?taken-by=caseypatt" hide_caption="0"]

[instagram url="https://www.instagram.com/p/BTUWKvFF3_I/?taken-by=tyroneloomis" hide_caption="0"]

Despite his choice to refuse to sign the contract and not to play on the AVP tour this year, Kolinske said he supports his fellow pros who did sign.

"Every player has a different situation with their decision and I respect that. I just hope that everything works out for all the players. They work extremely hard and deserve it."

The AVP Huntington Beach Open kicks off on Thursday, May 4, with the qualifier, and the main draw action begins Friday, May 5.

The Battle For Europe's Most Prestigious Trophy Is Down To Four

As of Thursday night, only four teams remain in the hunt for Europe’s most prestigious professional trophy.

EIVA Notebook: Schoenfeld Leads Harvard Back From Extended Break

College basketball has hurtled into the postseason and March is officially mad, but in men’s college volleyball, regular-season action chugs along.

Q&A With Power Volley Milano's Taylor Averill

Former University of Hawaii middle blocker Taylor Averill is having a pretty solid year. He made the playoffs of Italy’s Serie A at the conclusion of the 2017-18 professional season with his Power Volley Milano team and then hit the road with the U.S. Men’s National Team for Volleyball Nations League and World Championships. 

EIVA Notebook: Gimeno Shines In Moral Victories For NJIT

With just over a month to go before the conference playoffs and a month and a half from the NCAA Tournament, men’s college volleyball is heating up. 

Krystal Rivers Is On The Rise With Allianz MTV Stuttgart

Krystal Rivers, a 24-year-old American opposite from Birmingham, Alabama, posted 29 points in Allianz MTV Stuttgart’s final Champions League pool play match, a 3-1 defeat of Martiza Plovdiv. No other player on the court at the Kolodruma Sport Hall in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, even came close to matching her tally of 21 kills and eight blocks.

Inside Samantha Middleborn's Extraordinary Journey To Chieri Glory

Here’s the short version of Samantha Middleborn’s extraordinary story.

CEV Women's Quarterfinal Preview

The field has narrowed once again in the race for the 2019 CEV Women’s Champions League title.

EIVA Notebook: Princeton Falls To Red Hot St. Francis

Just when you think you’d gotten a good grasp of the teams and talent in the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association, a couple of major shakeups go down.

Catching Up With Former Penn State Star Jalen Penrose

USA Volleyball recently released its updated list of international transfers. The American governing body processed a record 440 transfers as of Feb. 1, granting U.S. athletes permission to compete in overseas leagues.

Q&A With Brescia's Haleigh Washington

Almost exactly two months after the conclusion of her college volleyball career, Penn State All-American middle blocker Haleigh Washington crossed the Atlantic to begin her first professional season with Italian A2 team Olimpia Teodora Ravenna.