Become an Asset to your Athletic Director

This word cloud represents administrators’ most-frequently used terms when describing the impact and value of swimming & diving on their campus

This word cloud represents administrators’ most-frequently used terms when describing the impact and value of swimming & diving on their campus

For those of us who’ve been in this business for awhile the next three months are pretty routine – conference championship season, national championship season and then job-hopping season.  With nearly 100 head coaches wrapping up at least their 25th season many changes will be voluntarily.  Of course, some will not. 

Link: How AD's Evaluate their Swimming & Diving Programs
What causes schools to make a change?  To find out, we asked your bosses what they looked at when evaluating their swimming and diving programs.  The responses weren’t surprising.  History has shown that very few coaches lose their job for their performance pool, provided the rest of the program is in order.  What was striking, however, was the response rate - over 150 athletic directors and sports administrators responded including nearly half of all major-conference Division I schools – and how much they agreed.  Here, then, are the top five critical areas when AD’s evaluate a coach. 

#5 - Fiscal Management

All but a select few programs have budget limitations.  Success, however, doesn’t guarantee fiscal freedom.  When an administrator sees a program with its budget in disarray, they perceive a program that doesn’t have its house in order.  What are you doing to ensure that the dollars you receive (or generate) are being used effectively?

#4 – Athletic Performance

Administrators’ opinion of team performance rises and falls with their investment in the team.  The bigger the school’s commitment, the greater the stakes.  Across every Division and subdivision, however, AD’s valued conference success twice as much as the NCAA Championship performance.  What are you doing to ensure your roster reflects the expectations of your institution?

#3 – Citizenship

Olympic sports tend to occupy a very small space in the public consciousness and when athletic directors list the challenges that keep them up at night, swimming and diving barely registers, they appreciate that our athletes are good citizens.  Except, of course, when they aren’t.  On the occasions where college swimming and diving has grabbed national headlines, they haven’t been flattering.  What then, are you doing to craft the message, and the image – in other words, the foundation upon which to project your team when things go sideways?

#2 – Academic Performance

Nearly every coach has uttered the phrase, “here, academics are number one.”  When it comes to athletic directors, however, our teams’ academics are solidly number two.  If athletic directors feel it’s important, shouldn’t you?  Whatever your school’s benchmark is – APR, GSR, or GPA – what will it take for you to exceed it?  Different priorities?  Different recruiting?  

#1 – Student-Athlete Experience

At the end of the day (or season), the most vital thing you will be judged by is the quality of experience of your students as measured through their evaluations or exit interviews.  Disheartening as it seems, that doesn’t mean we can’t demand a great deal from our students.  On the contrary, most will seek to be held to higher standards.  How then are you communicating and implementing them?  Your ability to withstand a few bad apples will correspond with your ability to construct a team that your institution can be proud of and that your alumni will want to be a part of.
This isn’t rocket science.  In fact, when asked, “how well does your swimming or diving coach understand these goals?” athletic directors give our profession very, very high marks.  Unfortunately, when asked “How well does your swimming or diving coach achieve these goals?” administrators graded us more harshly. 
Ultimately, our ability to close the between understanding and achieving will enable us to craft the type of program we want.