What is the difference between a walk-on and a roster spot?
This is always a tough question to answer because many coaches use these terms differently. Generally, a walk-on means you get into the school on your own and will be given the opportunity to try out for the team. Some coaches do not allow walk-ons. If they do, you will typically play a certain number of rounds with a team member. Depending on what you shoot, the coach will decide if you make the team. It is extremely difficult to walk on because a coach has already decided on his/her team roster for that year.
A roster spot is a better scenario because it is a guaranteed spot on the team, you just aren’t receiving any athletic scholarship money. Some coaches, however, will call this a “walk on” as well and don’t expect you to tryout. You can receive academic or need based money through the school or outside sources. The coach will usually help make sure your application goes through as well. Roster spots tend to more common than a walk-on who has to try out for the team. A coach spends a big majority of their time recruiting and watching players. They invest time and money in the players they “recruit” and allow on the team. For them to allow a player to walk-on who they didn’t think was good enough to recruit is tough for the coach. If you are able to walk on, it can still be extremely difficult to earn playing time. Many coaches will tend to favor the scholarship and recruited players.
Since coaches may distinguish between these two terms differently, always make sure you ask specifically what they are offering. Also make sure you ask if there is the possibility of earning scholarship if you perform well.