Coaches such as Butler men’s basketball skipper Brad Stevens think the Head Coach APR will reflect the commitment they’ve already made to student-athlete academic success.
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By Michelle Brutlag Hosick
The development of the Head Coach APR Portfolio did not occur without debate. Some coaches have questioned whether they should be publicly accountable for the academic performance of student-athletes, particularly when other administrators have a hand in creating an overall culture on a campus.
Butler men’s basketball coach Brad Stevens said he understands some of those feelings, but he believes that nurturing academic success begins before a student-athlete enters a university’s program and continues throughout his career with a school.
“We recruit ambitious guys who are committed to not only earning a degree but also competing in the classroom. We emphasize the fact that you’re here to be a student first,” he said. “There’s a direct correlation between being an active learner in the classroom and being an active participant and ultimately successful on the floor.”
Connecticut football coach Randy Edsall also believes it takes more than a head coach to underscore the importance of academics, but he considers shepherding his players toward a degree as part of his job.
“Such a small percentage of young men continue their football career after college. Even if they are fortunate enough to go on to the next level, the length of a football player’s career after college is short, relatively speaking,” Edsall said. “The No. 1 thing a young man needs to do when he goes away to school to participate in football or any other sport is to make sure he gets his degree.”
Grant Teaff, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association, and Jim Haney, executive director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, said coaches count academic performance among their job responsibilities.
“Frankly, coaches know they are responsible and accept public accountability for academics as well as for the conduct of their players and their wins and losses,” Teaff said.
Haney said the accountability is not a new concept.
“The head coach APR portfolio makes that more public,” Haney said. “My hope is that as we bring greater focus on the coach, and that we don’t lose sight of the fact that this is much broader than the coach. There is a team effort involved in creating the success of student-athletes.”
In the past, some coaching associations and other groups (including the Football Academic Working Group) have considered expanding the portfolio to include other people, such as athletics directors and presidents, as Haney suggested. While the Committee on Academic Performance and the Board of Director acknowledged that sentiment, neither group has committed to such an expansion. The CAP has pledged to review both the information published in the portfolio and the individuals listed in the database, but the committee emphasized that publishing coaches’ information in all sports is the group’s first priority.