Coaches react to APR concept
With a strong endorsement from the Division I Board of Directors, the Committee on Academic Performance will begin working in earnest to develop an Academic Progress Rate to follow head coaches from job to job. While many coaching associations agree that accountability for coaches is necessary, some aren’t sure that a “lifetime APR” for a coach is the best way to make coaches responsible.
Executive directors of several coaching associations support the concept, but some also cite the same potential pitfalls the CAP identified in its early examination of the issue, including resource variances among institutions, other individuals at an institution who influence a student-athlete’s academic success, and the student-athlete cohort that would be included in a coach’s annual rate.
Some coaching groups say the disparity in resources among Division I institutions is the biggest stumbling block. While some schools can afford a full complement of academic advisors and multimillion-dollar academic facilities, others can’t pay for summer school for student-athletes or send tutors on extended road trips. The academic support provided at some of the larger schools is designed to improve academic success and could be perceived as an advantage not enjoyed by schools with fewer resources.
“Accountability is important, because without accountability you can let things slide. But if we’re going to make the coach accountable, we need to make sure the resources are available,” said Jim Haney, executive director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches. “There’s such a tremendous variance throughout the 330 schools in terms of resources – how can you compare one coach’s APR to another?”
That comparison is, in some cases, what the presidents on the Board are after – they want to have an easy metric to use when personnel decisions are made, especially in high-profile sports like football and basketball. But the coaches point out that the coach on the field or court or mat is not the only one responsible for a student-athlete’s academic success.
Grant Teaff, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association, pointed to the adage “it takes a village to raise a child” in explaining why he believes the concept is unfair to coaches.
“We stress responsibility, but it’s across the board. Institutions have a responsibility, and coaches have a responsibility in who they recruit and their emphasis on academics. The athletics department has a responsibility – the athletics director must furnish the proper tools so the youngsters can compete and live up their academic responsibilities,” Teaff said. “You can’t blame singularly one person for the failure of an institution to live up to the standards set by the NCAA.”
Another hazard some coaching groups see with creating a metric for coaches is assigning responsibility for a player recruited by a previous coach to a new coach, especially if a young coach agrees to take over a program that has not been academically successful or that is decimated by transfers after the departure of a previous coach. If a new coach is accountable for the actions – and the academic success – of players he or she did not recruit, it could take years for an accurate “lifetime average” APR to develop. In the meantime, the coach’s APR is not a true reflection of his or her commitment to academic performance.
“We as coaches have to be held accountable for the graduation rate and the academic success of our student-athletes, but it would be unfair for a coach to be burdened by a program that is off to a bad start before he gets there,” said Dave Keilitz, executive director of the American Baseball Coaches Association. “The coaches feel they are responsible for the academic success of the student-athletes as they bring them in, and as they progress through school.”
Haney argued that a form of public accountability for coaches already exists within the Academic Performance Program: the penalty structure, including the negative media attention that comes with a poor showing. The penalties, he said, already make a coach accountable by affecting his ability to maintain and build a program.
“It’s not an issue of no accountability versus full accountability if you assign a number (to a coach),” Haney said. “If somebody wanted to do the background research on a coach, they could easily go look up the number if they wanted to.”
Though many of the coaching associations and their representatives, including Mike Moyer of the National Wrestling Coaches Association, support the idea, many agreed that a fair metric is likely difficult to build, and an unfair metric will not provide the information the NCAA Division I Board of Directors is seeking.
“We’d have to work through a lot of the details of how it would apply, but our board is very supportive of anything that can continue to improve the graduation, eligibility and retention rates of our wrestlers,” Moyer said. “There are some wrinkles that would need to be ironed out so it can be applied fairly to all coaches.”
Beth Bass, executive director of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, said her membership has not yet had the opportunity to vet the concept, but it could benefit women’s basketball coaches by reinforcing the connection between the coach and the student-athlete and assisting campus leaders in the hiring process.
Calling it “an intriguing concept,” Bass said the coach’s rate would fit with the WBCA’s Code of Ethics. The organization’s board of directors and conference representatives will discuss the issue in the coming months.
The Committee on Academic Performance is expected to develop model for Board review this spring.
To join a conversation about the APR’s relationship to coaches, visit the Double-A Zone post on the issue.
© 2010 The National Collegiate Athletic Association