Few factors are more important to the quality of the athletics experience and the retention of athletes than the provision of quality coaches who have sufficient contact time with their teams. Yet, at many institutions, it is common to observe schools assigning more full-time coaches to male teams or aggressively going into the marketplace to hire the very best coaches away from other institutions at whatever salary is required for men’s sports, and relying on submitted paper applications and less competitive salaries for coaches of women’s teams. Therefore, it’s important for athletics administrators to understand what Title IX requires.
One way to look at the assignment of coaches is to convert percentage of time assignments, full-time and part-time, to full-time-equivalents (FTE). One FTE is equal to the equivalent of one 100% time coach, i.e., two 50% time coaches, etc.). Then take the total number of male athletes and divide by the number of FTEs for coaches of male teams and do the same for coaches of female teams. For instance, if there are 200 male athletes and a total of 10 FTEs for coaches of these teams, there is a coach/athlete ratio of 1 to 20. Assume there are 150 female athletes and 6 FTEs for a coach/athlete ratio of 1 to 25. In this example, a school is giving its male student-athletes more favorable teaching ratios than female athletes.
Another way to analyze coaches is to examine coaches provided in comparable sports. In NCAA Division I schools where most of the head and assistant coaches are in full-time coaching positions, an analysis of the number of coaches allocated to the women's program compared to the men's program is relatively easy to do. In comparable sports, the total number of coaches in a men's sport program should be the same as in the women's sport program e.g. each basketball program having a total of four coaches. In non-comparable sports, a wise guide would be to use the NCAA coaching limits in each of these sports since the organization has attempted to identify for each sport the number of coaches necessary to adequately perform the responsibilities associated with that sport. A common problem is to hire the maximum number of coaches for some men's sports and fewer than the maximum for women's sports.
In other NCAA Divisions, at high schools or at institutions that are members of the NJCAA, the NAIA or other governance associations where many of the coaches may not be full-time, the analysis is a little more complex. In this instance, there may be part-time head coaches and assistant coaches. Ideally, in all sports the coaches of men's sports and the coaches of women's sport would have the same percentage of time allocated for coaching. If not, then it would be defensible to have the coaches of comparable sports with the same percentage and to allocate percentages to coaches of non-comparable sports in such a way that the overall result is equitable. Or, using the FTE system, a program-wide assessment is easy to accomplish.
It is also important to be sure that student-athletes of one gender are not disadvantaged by having less access to their coaches because of additional non-coaching responsibilities which might range from hall duty and bus duty in high schools to teaching or administrative loads in high schools and colleges. For example, it would be inequitable to have coaches of men's sports teaching sport skill classes while coaches of women's sports are teaching theoretical courses, such as biomechanics, which require much more preparation time.
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