Dear Athletic Support: A coach in my hometown just got “promoted” to athletic director. This guy was the head coach of the football team for as long as I can remember. The last ten years of his career were brutal. We never won more games than we lost, and we rarely made the playoffs. How, then, does it make sense that this guy gets promoted to athletic director? Now he’s going to be in charge of every single sport in our whole school district. Surely there is another spot this old coach could’ve filled. I know we need some bus drivers! My hometown isn’t known for being a powerhouse in any particular sport, and I can’t help but think it’s decisions like this that are keeping us from being winners. Thoughts?
Dear Fired: Firing a coach is easier said than done. As a matter of act, firing any public-school employee is a chore. But before you get all worked up, hear me out. Because this deal cuts both ways.
Imagine any time a parent had an issue with a teacher or a coach the end result was that employee being fired. How would that turn out? With teacher strikes and COVID, we barely have enough warm bodies to fill all the open positions these days.
Which leads me back to your coach and his surprising promotion. Don’t quote me on this, but I think there’s some sort of law against docking a public- school employee’s salary. In other words, once a teacher or coach has moved up to a certain level on the pay scale, he/ she can’t go back down.
Maybe this is why your coach was promoted to athletic director. It wouldn’t make much sense to pay a bus driver 70, 80, or even 90 thousand bucks a year.
I understand your concern in regard to the wellbeing of your athletic program as a whole. But maybe this guy will take his new job seriously. Maybe it will motivate him. Who knows, maybe he’ll be better at fundraising than he was motivating a team of high school boys.
The athletic director’s job is very different from that of the head coach’s. It’s an administrator’s position. Regardless of his record as a football coach, this guy has experience dealing with and managing people. The head football coach generally has to handle more players and assistants than any other coach in the district.
In the end, there’s nothing you can do about a situation like this. If I were you, I’d give him a chance to prove himself before jumping to any conclusions. If a few years go by and the entire athletic program seems to be worse off than before, then maybe it’ll be time to break out the pitchforks and storm the school board meeting.
Eli Cranor is a former professional quarterback and coach turned award-winning author of the BOOKS MAKE BRAINZ TASTE BAD series. Send questions for “Athletic Support” to firstname.lastname@example.org or use the contact page on elicranor.com. Eli Cranor elicranor.com