HIRING AND FIRING OF COACHING PERSONNEL
(Monday, June 5, -9:30 a.m. -11:00 a.m.)
Good morning. I'm Bob Bottger, coordinator or athletics at Indian River Community College in Florida. Before we start with our formal program this morning, I know we have several new races here today and we want to back up and rill you in on some or the exciting things that are taking place. On Saturday and Sunday, the National Alliance or Two-Year College Athletic Administrators had its first convention preceding this one. We have approximately 40 representatives from across the country. This is your organization. We are not in a position where we're coming in and having to right with any established political structure. It is going to be what we make it. We're looking for your input and we hope that it will continue to grow. We have about 350 members now and we're going to put some folks together and hear your ideas.
I will be in charge of setting up the convention next year and I want to encourage you to please contact me if you have interests in terms of what topics you would like to be included, or if you would like to be a presenter or know folks in your particular area. We very much want to get new names and faces involved with us. The door is open to you and we want you to step up and step through to make this a fantastic organization.
We now switch hats and become a part of NACDA as we begin today. For the NACDA Executive Committee, there are approximately 50 members of which our junior community college people have four representatives. These representatives are Rick Golas from Holyoke Community College, Russ Dippold from St. Louis Community College at Forest Park, Art Becker from Scottsdale Community College and this is my last go around this year. Dr. Jim Harvey from Miami Dade South will come on at the end of the Convention. You have four representatives to NACDA. These people are there for you to communicate with them and make this group as viable as possible. We are very much interested in keeping a marriage between NACDA and NATYCAA. The four NACDA representatives will also be on the Executive Committee of NATYCAA, so we can try to coordinate topics as well as possible.
We are starting to be noticed. Our numbers are increasing. I've already had one vendor approach me asking for involvement at our Convention next year. That's a lot different from having to go knock on a door. I've had Division III directors of athletics this morning say, "your program is better than the one that is set up for the four-year people." We're doing some good things and we want to encourage this.
This morning's session is on hiring and firing of coaching personnel. Our format this morning will
begin with a formal presentation. We're pleased to have a representative from St. Louis CC-Forest Park, Russ Dippold. Russ received his BS and MS from the University of Missouri at Columbia. He participated in varsity basketball and tennis at the University of Missouri. He then was employed in the St. Louis public school system, both on the elementary and high school level and in 1969, he joined the staff of Forest Park as an instructor and coach in physical education. Since 1978, he has been the director of athletics at that institution. Without further ado, Russ Dippold.
Thank you, Bob. It's a pleasure to be here this morning. Talking on this subject gives me a chance to reflect on the things that have happened since I took over as director of athletics. I think hiring and
firing is something that we probably all have to deal with and it's a shirt-sleeve type of situation. Over the past 12 years, I've had situations where we've brought on new people, both part-time and full-time. We also had to let a lot of people go. I came to Forest Park in 1969 as a coach and teacher of physical education. In 1977, when this position opened up, at that time we had an election. The only instructions in that
election was that you couldn't vote for yourself. I won by a mandate of one to nothing. People still think I cheated because there were eight extensions and only one vote cast. Thank God, that selection process has changed or I'd probably be gone along with it.
When we first came to Forest Park, we were a member of a three-school system. Merimac serving the south countyand Forest and Valley serving the north county. Forest Park was to serve the city. We were built with the intent of serving approximately 10,000 students. The city population went the way many city populations have gone. People moved from the area prior to the school getting started. So, we were faced with a population of about 6,000. We were considerably over-staffed with nine full-time people. We had nine or 10 sports. In order to make work load, we used a lot of artificial time. Our administration wanted all of this cleaned up. Almost any move I was going to make would be with considerable resistance since I was hired at the same time as the rest of our staff.
About four or five sports were reduced and that meant the people who were teaching and coaching those sports had their work loads reduced. That meant they were going to have to pick up more of their load in the physical education area. Since then, we attempted to add four sports, but the four sports we added have gone by the wayside. So, we currently have seven sports. We sponsor sports in men's basketball, baseball, soccer
and wrestling. In women's we have basketball, softball and volleyball. Our current staff consists of five full-time faculty people who are teachers and coaches. Those five people coach five of the head sports. We have one person who is the assistant coach in two of the sports.
During the past 12 years, in looking back at the things we've had to do, I came up with 50 personnel actions I was involved with and I thought were significant. This excludes those type of hirings and resignations that go aiong with part-time assistant coaches. Looking it over, I had 26 hirings. We had to hire three full-time faculty, 12 part-time head coaches, eight part-time assistant coaches, one athletic trainer and two full-time secretaries. On the other end, we've been involved with 18 separations. We had t~ full-time people that were reduced because of reduction in force (RIF). We had four resignations, which I would call encouraged resignations. We had eight firings, including five part-time head coaches, two part-time assistant coaches and one part-time gym assistant. We lost two people because of programs cut out. We had one full-time person lost due to a negotiated transfer. We had one person lost because of a position status change. Of all those changes, I had about 24 of them I would call separations which were not initiat~ by the staff member. They were administrative initiations. Of those 24, we had one grievance filed. That grievance was based on a sex discrimination and was not upheld. While we had a lot of changes, I feel that our record is clean from the standpoint of justification.
You really need to have guts when initiating a change of assignment because you're not going to be very popular with the staff. You learn to become acquainted with a very lonely position when you take on the responsibility of making these changes. Over the period of 20 years, you're going to have a lot of changes
in programs and there are going to be needs you now have that you didn't need when you first started out. In our situation, we had approximately five people who were hired in 1969 who were still with us into the late 70s and early 80s. That may not be unusual, but we felt like it was fairly unusual to have that many people stay on with us. When you have people stay on that long, they also have some changes in terms of what they want to do.
You have a need for change because you're forced to use part-time faculty or part-time coaches. When you use part-time people we found two problems; one, when you don't have a great deal of money, you can't attract qualified people; two, part-time people have other jobs and can't give you the amount of time you need. So, you're forced to look at people you wouldn't normally want.
One of the main problems we all have is dealing with full-time faculty who are on continuing contracts when changes come about or are necessitated. The options we look at are to substantiate incompetence. We found on our campus that this is virtually impossible. Our cdaches are hired as faculty. We have what's called a statement of understanding which is a negotiated instrument between the faculty and the administration. This very strictly outlines the procedures for evaluating faculty. Faculty is valuated in terms of their PE teaching, so in order to document that you want to remove them for incompetence in coachinl you have a very tough job ahead of you. Particularly, when they are only evaluated once every three years. We have found that to be a very viable option. The most viable option I have found has to do with the right of assignment. In our situation, the right of assignment lies with the administration. I can make a decisi( both in the teaching and in the coaching area as to what a staff member's position is going to be. All I ha' to do is be able to justify that that person has had some experience and has expertise in this area.
In three situations, I felt that the right of assignment brought about resignations of full-time faculty. In one situation, we had a full-time faculty member on leave of absence. They had not made a decision as to whether or not they were going to return to the college and they were holding us at bay.
This person had never coached before. Because of the right of assignment, I assigned this person to coachi~ two head sports and gave a deadline to commitment. This person chose to resign.
In a second situation, we had a person who was on staff full-time, was under continued contract and
was coaching two sports. I relieved the person of the coaching responsibilities in both areas. This meant that person was going to have to pick up his load in the physical education area. Because our college did not have enough enrollment to allow for the physical education program just to pick up that load, that persol was able to see that we would be over-staffed. In the anticipation that the job would not be there, he resigned.
In a third situation, we had a full-time faculty person who was coaching basketball and we came to the conclusion that that person was not sharing the same philosophy that we had. We made a decision to switch h assignment and once again, we came up with a resignation. Now, we may have been lucky. One year in particular, we were looking at our program and trying to decide what our problems were. I felt that we need to make a change in men's basketball. I wanted to make a change, but I wanted to keep that position full-time. We had a part-time baseball position and I wanted to change that to a full-time position. We hal a soccer coaching position that was part-time and wanted to change that to a full-time position. I had one person on my staff who was not coaching anything and I wanted to get that person involved in coaching. I wanted, also, to boost those sports where we had part-time coaching. The problem with all of this was that we had no full-time positions available to us in the PE department. Our enrollment was in decline to the point that we were looking at transferring people from the academic areas to other colleges. The administration had taken the position that any vacated positions would not be filled. Yet, I had this plan.
The results of the plan were that we got everything accomplished. First of all, I went to the president of the college and shared the plan with him one year prior to any action being taken. He agreed that what we wanted to accomplish should be done and he approved how we wanted to get them done. So, when I attempted to start this plan, I had his support even though all those other problems existed.
First of all, I assigned our men's basketball coach to our women's basketball coaching position and I knew that wouldn't set well. I assigned the women's basketball coach to the men's basketball coach. I released the head soccer coach and the baseball coach. We also assigned the previous head basketball coach to the men's baseball program as head coach. We also knew that that wouldn't set well. We anticipated that with that type of work assignment, a resignation might come through. All of these things did fall in place for us. We were able to show by collecting data with the physical education department that for several semesters, prior to making this move, we had enough credit hours to support keeping the number of staff we felt we needed on board. We ended up with a head soccer coach being a full~time position, a head baseball coach being a full-time position, a new men's basketball coach, a new women's part-time basketball coach and a new assistant in the volleyball program. In that same year, another situation came about with our softball coach. The decision was made that our head softball coach and the assistant softball coach should be released. We ended up hiring a new softball coach too, and appointing the person we had on staff to our women's softball program.
All of these changes came about in one year. We were able to identify what our problems were and we had a viable solution for them. Before we did anything, we went to the president for his support. There are certain risks when you try to do that. If you go to a president before you go to a dean of instruction or a dean of student development, you may cause some hard feelings. The other side was, if you go to them first and they turn you down, your next option is to go to your president. Now you're asking him to override his two department heads, so I decided to take the risk and go to our president first. I'd rather have the department heads upset than make our president override his next two chief men.
That's what is going on at Forest Park. If you have any questions, I'd be happy to respond to them.
We had a situation about five years ago. I've tried to convince the administration that if they hire a teacher/coach, it should be a combination. They should not be hired as a teacher and also coach. The whole job should go together as one ball of wax. The coach couldn't come in and resign from the coaching and drop back as a teacher.
With the change of assignment there are some risks involved. If you have a viable program and you switch someone over to that program, you may end with that program going down hill. If a person is not happy, what kind of job will they do, for instance, coaching basketball. The hedge against that would be that if that person is not doing the job the way he or she should, then I may reduce the number of contact hours that that person gets for that program and reduce the program. For instance, we run women's basketball for two semesters. If I don't feel that the person is working at the program, I may reduce that program to a one-semester sport. Instead of giving the person 16 hours release time, I may give him 10. If I give him 10, he has to pick up that extra load in the FE program. We don't have an abundance of student credit hours. If I can't pick up his load, then he has to be concerned with job. If he has seniority, he may feel comfortable, but if I can show by continuity of program that I need him less than I need the others, he's vulnerable.
If you have problems with a part-time person, just don't re-hire him. It's a technicality, but you're certainly not firing them, you're just not re-hiring them.
We certainly don't have all of the answers and the problems are ongoing, I know. We all have people in positions where we need to make changes and you're locked in unless you can come up with some innovative ways to deal with them.
Thank you very much, Russ. Those of you in the NJCAA, unless the rules change, are probably going to have to go back to those release times or supplements because of starting dates and ending dates of sports. We've got a great program for you at 11:15. You have some time now to see our exhibitors.