Now through spring is the time that some high school basketball coaches will be either fired or not rehired. As a former coach who still thinks as a coach first in any endeavor I do concerning basketball I feel that this article needs to be written for some of my fellow coaches.
This has become an annual event and has already started with a coaching position in Western Maine.
High school coaches do not have tenure like teachers do. Coaches do have contracts, but they are just one year stipend contracts with no guarantees that the coach will be rehired. In fact, in many schools they have to reapply for the job each year.
Also, school boards, school committees, Board of Directors do not have to give any reasons for not rehiring any coach. Even if the coach’s, Athletic Director and Principal give their coach a positive evaluation and recommendation the coach be may not be rehired.
Why does this happen? Well a little history. Coaches up until the early 70’s were usually high school teachers in the same high school that they were coaching in. Today, it is just the opposite. Coaches are walkons as they do not teach and are usually non- educators by profession.
Granted, they have to be certified to coach by the MPA which means within a year of being hired they have to take and pass a coaching course, first aid and CPR Courses.
Today, many coaches are not rehired because of complaints from parents, especially if they are influential parents in a community. Schools do not have to give a reason for not rehiring coaches. If they do, then they have to prove why and the coaches do have recourse to challenge not being rehired.
Usually, this parent pressure is about playing time or squad selection. Mostly it is about playing time. Very few schools have the “4 Cardinal Rules” in their parent. player, coach and school contracts. These 4 rules state the expectations of what parents are allowed to do or not do in contacting anybody in the school administration (including the coach) about: 1. Playing time 2.Squad Selection 3. .Team Strategy 4. Other Players. These four rules should be non-negotiable and not discussed..
Coaches who are in these schools are usually well protected and do not have to worry about not being rehired if they are recommended to be rehired by their administrators.
It is the coaches who take jobs without these “4 Cardinal Rules” being part of their schools parent. player. coach, school contract that are the most vulnerable and concern me the most. .
What can the coaching profession do about this today? The MABC (the Maine Association of Basketball Coaches) has not been able to do much over the years to protect themselves from this difficult situation..
What can Coaches do individually?. 1. Make sure that they take a job that has the “4 Cardinal Rules” in effect. 2. Before signing the contract make sure of the history of the job hiring and not rehiring history 3. Why is the job open now? 4. Not just take a job because they want to coach so badly.
Another suggestion that I used personally from day 1 before I took any coaching job I gave the hiring committee a copy of my parent, player. coach,school contract which included the “4 Cardinal Rules” along with Team training Rules and Team/Player Policies. I told them that this is what they are getting and if they cannot support that contract then they should not hire me. I also told them that if they hired me and did not support my Contract then I would quit that coaching position (But Keep my teaching position) and hold a press conference the next day to explain the situation. I had to state to do this at 2 of the schools I coached at and when I threatened to do that then they backed off and I stayed.
I did not want to coach so badly that I would not do what the old Araon Tippens Country Song entitled said, “If you don’t stand for something then you will fall for anything”!!
Why do you think coaches who were teachers left the coaching profession?
It was mostly because of interference and pressure from parents first, pressure of winning and losing second.
Usually, when school boards,do not give a particular reason then you can bet that parents usually are behind the pressure not to rehire the coach.
School Committees, School Boards, Board of Trustees, Board of Directors. etc. must do the right thing by not giving into parental pressures, especially when a coach has not done anything else except play the wrong players in the eyes of the parents, let alone being recommended by their athletic directors and principals that they should be rehired.
The evaluation of coaches should be as the same as for teachers. Evaluation for improvement of instruction and not a firing or not a rehiring instrument. In fact, no evaluator should list a need for improvement in any coaching area, without giving the coach the methods they need to use to improve in the area identified.
I bring this topic up because of the many hard working and dedicated coaches who try to do the right things by being fair (and that is all that players should expect from a coach) and playing the players that deserve to play in his daily contact with his team. No coach is not going to play the best players (in his eyes). Coaches want to win, so they are playing the players that are the most coachable, team players, hardest working, and that fit into the coaches system the best.
Regardless of the contract stipend law, ethically and morally speaking, if a coach is not rehired then they ought to be given the reason why and not have the people doing the rehiring hiding behind the fact that if they don’t give a reason and there is nothing anybody can do about it.
The solution to this problem is to have school boards, school committees, board of directors, board of trustees, etc. to have the “courage” and not be a part of “Parent Politics” and do the right thing eliminate… parental politics, install the “4 Cardinal Rules” and support coaches on the evaluation of their superiors and their recommendation.
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