January 4, 2010

College Volleyball Coach

The craziness of the college volleyball hiring season got me thinking about the profession of being a college volleyball coach. Below are some observations which may be of enlightenment for those individuals who are college volleyball coaches or those folks who are trying to join the ranks of the collegetely employed.

* Sometimes the hiring process can make perfect sense, while at other times it will leave you scratching your head like an early episode of Monty Python.

* I have tried all types of game plans when pursuing a job - The 'everything under the sun' resume, the minimalistic resume, the short cover letter, the long cover letter, had national championship coaches call upon my behalf, had nobody call, I called, sent in a volleyball program plan for success, etc. In reviewing places where I was hired or offered a job, I can't tell you if any of these things helped our hurt.

* On average, female candidates and/or assistant coach candidates from power conference successful programs will have an advantage in the hiring process with regards to head coach positions.

* Many times the person in charge of making the selection of a head coach, may not have a clue about volleyball. The overwhelming majority of Athletic Directors are male, and a very large percentage of the Senior Women's Administrators/Associate Athletic Directors do not have a volleyball background. Unfortunately, this is the position we are in with athletic departments during the hiring process.

* Assistant coach positions can fall into three categories; 1) The Head coach already has the person they want to hire, before the position is advertised, 2) The position is wide open and everyone will be given a fair shake, 3) The position is semi open, with the Head coach looking to hire a certain gender.

* There is no Golden Parachute when you are terminated as a College Volleyball coach. Unlike football and basketball coaches, when 'not renewed' or 'resigned' leave with a six to seven figure thank you card, we hope to walk away with a decent reference. By the way, ever wonder why these coaches don't walk empty handed? They almost never go into their last year of a contract when coaching; they always make sure to have at least one year beyond the current season on their contract. I guess the basketball coaches' association may be a bit more effective than ours.

* If College Volleyball coaches break NCAA rules or treat athletes in a questionable manner, like Coach Sampson from Indiana basketball or Coach Mangino from Kansas football (the jury is still out on Coach Leach from Texas tech football) we don't get paid to leave.

* For Volleyball programs, or Olympic Sports programs, there is still a national recession going on which mandates mid-fiscal year reductions in our program budgets, yet does not seem to apply to football and basketball.

* By the way, the cuts/reductions usually come during the recruiting season. With this in mind, it is best to purchase your tickets or lock in your travel plans immediately upon the end of the playing season. Most administrations simply look at your budget lines to see where there appears to be a surplus (team travel and recruiting are the two largest), so reduce this surplus by pre-paying travel for recruiting and the spring season. Do not let it sit and think you can spend it later in the fiscal year on something like a new television or computer. As Dana Carvey said as President Bush, "Not gonna happen".

* We are caught in a unique position with fund raising; we have to nickel and dime it. It is a big no-no to ask for money from donors, because the administration wants the deep pockets for their financial goals. Yet, we are constantly told or 'encouraged' to generate outside income to support our program. In a very real sense, too many college volleyball teams are like high school programs trying to raise money via car washes, selling candy and running club tournaments!

* Finally, make sure you take time away from the office and away from volleyball. I have experienced and seen my fellow coaches just burn out. All too often, college volleyball is caught in the middle - We are rolled out by athletic departments when they wish to showcase a sport which makes good grades, engages in community service, displays the best sportsmanship and is successful on the court, yet we are the first to be told to sacrifice when it comes to budgets, salary or departmental support.

If you have resumes working their way through Alice and Wonderland, or you are gearing up for a spring semester of recruiting and team training, I wish you the very best.

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