Sunday, October 13, 2013
Athletic Directors as Head Coaches: Conflict of Interest?
An athletic director or “AD” is an administrator at colleges, universities, high schools, and even larger middle schools who oversee the work of coaches and others employed by the athletic department. In the past, particularly in the South, the head football coach was also dubbed the “AD”; coaches to simultaneously hold both positions were Bear Bryant (Alabama) who ended his career in 1983, Frank Broyles (Arkansas) who finished his coaching career in 1976, and Darrell Royal (Texas) who completed his coaching career in 1976.
Having a dual role was typically a way to give the coach a little more prestige and a means to increase their salary. The AD/Head Coach role also provided that the president of the university was the only supervisor in the chain of command. Allowing these roles to be held simultaneously has almost been entirely abandoned in recent decades. Collegiate sports, in all aspects, have become far too complicated to be run on a part-time basis. There are just not enough hours in the day for one person to take on two demanding jobs, if one was to attempt both tasks at once certain aspects would have to be sacrificed and therefore presenting a poorly done job.
Holding both jobs could also lead to a case of favoritism; AD’s are in charge of the athletic budgets and usually have the final say in the amount of each athletic team’s financial plan. This can make it extremely easy for the sport they also coach to become the best at “fundraising”, which usually means they were just cut a bigger check. This type of system was given up by most university systems to avoid problems like these and since then have been doing quite well. Athletic departments that have avoided evolving with the rest of the country are also usually lacking in performance and facilities, except for that one special team.
The role of an Athletic director is to be a leader of the athletics program as a whole. One should always look to be fair and equally meet the needs of each sports team. Taking a dual role as the coach of an athletic team is consciously deciding to neglect the rest of your department and noticeably putting the needs of just your own few athletes ahead of the rest.