I was reading through one of the women's volleyball Internet forums and there was a long thread about why so many head coaches are males. In the 7 or so pages of posts, many reasons were submitted for the discrepancy of more males than females coaching the female version of volleyball.
The reasons ranged from fewer number of female applicants for head coaching positions, to number of hours needed to do the job would take away from family time, to hesitancy of females to uproot and move to new locations, to gender biases by the old boy network of athletic directors and many other valid reasons which would lend themselves towards the skewed statistics.
Yet, for 7 pages of opinions and bickering, not one time did someone say MONEY! The posters referenced how women's basketball had a higher percentage of female head coaches, with the rationale being that females could be head coaches of basketball because they had an additional assistant coach (interesting bias against volleyball when we have 6 starters and now with the Libero, we have 7 full time players, yet we have one less assistant than women's basketball who only start 5 players) and director of operations (this just absolutely kills me - what the heck does a director of women's basketball operations do to justify the position, especially when the program has 3 full time assistants?) which allow a female head basketball coach more family time since the responsibilities are spread out among 4, count them, 4 full time staff (but, they also have a dedicated secretary, so 5 full time staff for the head coach).
7 pages of posts, even bringing up the example of women's basketball having a better female to male ratio, but no direct statement of salary.
It is without complete hesitation in which I say to have more female head coaches in the sport of Division I volleyball, the salaries need to be significantly better. I read that the Iowa State coach, Coach Johnson, is making $130,000.00 per year base. That is great for her. But, while we point to Coach Johnson and say "WOW!", every head coach of Division I women's basketball that comes from barely recognizable institution will make $130,000.00. Salaries which are over 100 grand are the RULE for women's basketball, not the exception like women's volleyball.
If every volleyball program in the PAC 10, Big 10, Big 12, SEC, ACC, Big East, WAC, Mountain West, Big West, West Coast Conference, Missouri Valley, Ohio Valley, Southland, Sunbelt and Conference USA all paid over $100,000.00 per head coach, just like the women's basketball does in these conferences, you would see a majority of the volleyball head spots filled by females.
And let me tell you why - Salaries over $100,000.00 eliminate almost all of the reasons listed for females not garnering head coach positions. If a female is married and wishes to take care of her family, then she has the financial resources to gain quality child care and her husband does not need to have a full time job to keep the family financially afloat - this frees up the husband to be a resource at home for the kids and his wife. When a head coach is making 40K, this is certainly not situation - it is the reverse; quality child care is tough to secure and the husband would need to have a full time position.
100k makes it more comfortable to mentally apply for jobs - I say mentally because you need to see yourself in a position before you can take the position. It would be great to coach in Santa Barbara, but if the salary is 50 grand, then there is no way you could possibly see yourself there (maybe for a week). If U of Miami is going to pay $12o big ones, then it is easy to see moving the family there when you know your monthly paycheck is $10,000.00 gross.
One thing to remember about this dollar equation, with a larger salary comes bigger non salary benefits. It is known within the world of college athletics that women's basketball head coaches all have courtesy cars with insurance paid, memberships at country clubs, well paid assistant coaches (which means you can hire quality assistants), access to deep pocket boosters, charter planes to go in/out same day to games and the recruiting budgets to send assistants out on the road to do the leg work on the never ending recruiting classes. It really is the rich get richer.
Let's step back and take a look at the two pictures that I have painted. You are a talented female coach and you have two positions that have been advertised.
- Position one is paying $43,000 per year with one full time assistant and a graduate assistant, there is no courtesy car and you will be driving the vans to matches or the airport to head out on a 5 day conference road trips.
- Position two is paying $126,000 per year with 2 full time assistant coaches and a dedicated secretary, a courtesy car with insurance provided, country club membership for your family and staff, meal plan on campus for staff and family, all transportation is charter bus or charter airplane.
Tell me which job is Mary Jane going to apply for? Which job is she going to aggressively pursue?
A number of times, female candidates turn down jobs because they discover during the interview process that total package is just not worth the relocation hassles and sacrifice of family - It just does not make sense to work your tail off for an average salary or to take the 'big name' job that in reality is just an eight thousand dollar raise.
The NCAA, the AVCA, the Internet forums can all moan and groan and theorize and hope and fret and scratch their head and then bury it (their heads) in the sand about how come males have a majority of the head coaching positions in women's volleyball but it is all hypocrisy - Pay more money and more females will accept positions.
Time for my monthly dig at the AVCA - Our coaches association should be working their spandex off to make sure that $100,000.00 salaries are the rule, not the exception? Women's Basketball made it a priority and now they enjoy perks that volleyball coaches can only read about.
The proof is in season right now - Women's basketball pays more money and more females are head coaches.