I get it, football is a business. And high school football is the most important business within the framework of any school outside of educating students. High school football programs are the single largest income producer for a school's athletic department, and help to fund many other programs.
It is my philosophy that the head football coach is the second most-important person in a school and, besides the principal, should receive the second-highest salary. No other person in a school is as big of a fundraiser as the head football coach.
Studies have shown that schools with great football programs have higher test scores, better attendance and less discipline issues than schools who struggle, so using that logic, you can’t underestimate the stature of the head coach.
A football coach should answer to one person – the principal. However, in sports today, you have so many outside interests who like to use money as a power play to control certain aspects of a program – specifically, the hiring and firing of a coach.
I have very strong opinions that boosters should have no part in controlling a football program. Besides being completely unqualified, a principal should never allow an outside figure to control personnel matters. Doing so opens a Pandora’s Box where the principal is susceptible to being controlled in other aspects of the job.
Boosters and booster clubs have long been associated with schools and sports, and they do play a very important role. They assist in fundraising and making large purchases using community assets that many school and school systems are unable to make on their own.
I’ve come across some great booster clubs in my days. Some are so strong that they can be a major force in stadium remodeling or building a new stadium altogether. But despite having deep pockets, having a controlling interest in personnel moves is crossing the line.
I know it is a common practice in the collegiate game to have boosters assist in hires, and in some cases form search committees for a coach. College football is a multi-million-dollar industry and the stakes are higher. But we’re talking high school, where the coaches are already underpaid and work long hours, with often too few assistant coaches.
If high school coaches were paid six-figure-plus salaries, I could understand having a shorter leash, but we’re talking about regular citizens working eight hours (or more) in the classroom, then putting in four to five hours more with the team, mostly at the expense of their families.
A coach shouldn’t have to constantly look over his shoulder, waiting for an unhappy booster to control the principal like a puppet and send them packing. These coaches have more important tasks – teaching, coaching and shaping our young people into men who will one day be our next generation of leaders and fathers.
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