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Tougher Consequences Will Cure This Phenomenon

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Photo: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Is it the pressure to win or the money that causes coaches to try and protect their star players in the world of sports? I’m talking about the recent documents that were filed in a Dallas County court in response to a libel lawsuit that the former football director of operations filed against Baylor University and several members of its senior leadership.

This is becoming all too common in the coaching profession. Coaches covering up physical assaults, domestic violence, brandishing of guns, indecent exposure, academic fraud, and the list goes on. The thing that puzzle me, as a coach of 27 years, is how these coaches and administrators continue to work in the profession? Many of the assistants from the Baylor program have moved on from there to other colleges and universities. The former athletic director has landed a new position at Liberty University. All of these terrible acts against women occurred on his watch.

This brings back memories from my first college coaching position back in 1995-1997. I was a part-time coach at a Division II school coaching baseball. Therefore, my main job was at a local high school teaching in the special education department during the day and then going to the University for practices in the evenings and on weekends. Every year the team made a trip to Florida early in the season to get away from the snow and cold weather in the north.

In 1997 I informed the head I would not be able to make the trip because of my duties with the high school I was teaching at wouldn’t allow me to make the trip. While there the head coach and assistant decided to go out for a night of partying 45 minutes away from where they were staying. Leaving 25-30 players of the ages of 18-23 at a hotel unsupervised in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. The two coaches get in some trouble and don’t make it back that evening and word gets back to the athletic director because parents that made the trip were not happy.

When the team returned from Florida the assistant coach was immediately let go and the head coach was still coaching until an investigation is completed. After it is found to be true, the head coach was given the option to resign or be fired. Obviously he chose the better of the two options and resigned his position. The question here is why was he given the option to resign? Does this type of behavior by a head coach give any indication that he is capable of leading a program?

When there are no significant consequences for actions that have no business in the profession, why would they be allowed to continue to work in the profession? Incidentally, this coach is still coaching today. In my opinion, this is why we have these types of issues going on today. Until administrators and leaders stop making athletics all about the money and winning it should be no surprise that this type of behavior continues for years to come.

By Dr. Bret Simmermacher

Dr. Simmermacher is the Chair of Sports Coaching at the United States Sports Academy, and can be reached at bsimmer@ussa.edu

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