June 19, 2017 • From the BenchWinning Hoops

Eight ideas to help fund coaching education

by David Hoch, CMAA

Even in good economic times, athletic budgets are usually strained and pushed to the limit. Considering all of the necessary safety equipment, team travel and other expenditures associated with operating an athletic department, this is understandable.

However, providing professional development opportunities for your coaches has to be a major objective and responsibility of all athletic administrators. Coaches are, after all, the most important resource of any athletic program. This follows suit of the corporate world in which management realized that good, quality employees were far more important to produce their product or service than facilities, equipment or even financial resources.

As presented in the NIAAA Leadership Training Course 504, providing training for coaches is one of the 14 legal duties of an athletic director. The term “training” is really the same as education or professional development. Regardless of what term you prefer, it is a legal responsibility to provide opportunities to expand the knowledge and background of coaches in order to meet the needs of student-athletes.

While it is ideal for professional development to be included in the normal high school athletic budget, this probably isn’t possible, at least to the extent that is desired. Therefore, beyond budgeted funds, how does an athletic administrator pay for professional development for his or her coaches? The following represent a few practical solutions.

1. Gate receipts. Use a portion of your gate receipts to fund coach education and NFHS certification. In some settings around the country, gate receipts are placed in the general school account. In others, the athletic administrator has discretionary control of how this money is spent.

Regardless of where this money is ultimately deposited, get written approval from your supervisor — principal or superintendent — to earmark and use a predetermined amount to fund your coach education efforts. A well-written, concise proposal usually gets the approval for the use of gate receipts for coach education, if you emphasize that this professional development can lead to national certification and benefits the safety and welfare of your student-athletes.

2. Booster clubs. Go to your booster club and ask for help. Prepare and use a similar presentation that you may have used with your supervisor. In your presentation, include why this initiative is important and how it benefits the student-athletes. Of course, use all of the journalistic cues — who, what, where, when, why and how — so that the club understands the value and purpose.

3. Fundraisers. Conduct a special fundraiser dedicated to providing professional development and certification for your coaches. Your coaching staff will often get involved with this fundraiser, because the profits come back to directly help them. If you choose and host the right fundraiser, you can support your entire professional development and certification objective.

4. Sponsorships. Obtain a corporate sponsorship for your education and certification initiative. The concept of sponsorship is nothing new, since athletic administrators have long used signage in stadiums and gyms for years. While sponsoring this professional development endeavor would be a little different, it definitely is important.

Since attaching a business’ name to your education and certification initiative is unique, an athletic administrator has to create a proposal that clearly explains its value. The business that underwrites this program would get its name attached to all promotional materials and used on the school’s website to describe the program. The final sales pitch to a potential sponsor would be that its effort would directly benefit the growth and development of the student-athletes in terms of life-long values and qualities. How could a potential sponsor say no?

5. Grants. Look into grants that may be available from professional associations or corporations. While the application process usually involves preparing a proposal or completing specific forms, money is available for various initiatives, including education and training associated with school districts.

To be awarded a grant, it is important to meet the submission deadline and to completely and correctly provide all required information in order to be considered.

6. Request budgetary funding. Many schools and districts have professional development built into their budgets. Usually, this money is used to send teachers to conferences to enhance their skills in the classroom. Why not take this same approach with coaches? The answer is that you should.

Explain to your principal or superintendent that coaches also teach and provide a valuable educational experience for students. Therefore, it is important to also provide opportunities to enhance their background to benefit the student-athletes.

7. Reallocate funds. Consider reordering your budget allocations. Many athletic administrators employ a three- to four-year uniform replacement rotation. If you can extend this approach by one year, you can free up money for coach education. Since coaches are the No. 1 resource of any athletic department and have an immense impact on student-athletes, you may want to readjust your budget priorities.

8. Get help with expenditures. Consult with your booster club as you consider reordering your budget allotments and see if it can cover some basic expenditures. Also, outline a plan for your coaches to engage in fundraising to cover team wear, such as warm-ups and jackets. Teams and coaches may understandably be more inclined to raise money for these expenditures than they might for professional development. But if non-budgeted money can be used, it will free up some for education and certification.

In addition to providing opportunities for your coaching staff, it is also imperative that athletic administrators continue to be involved in professional development. Whether it is due to legislative or regulatory changes, new technology, or improvements with equipment, change is constant and this means that you have to continue to learn. Your coaches and student-athletes need the best that you can offer, and this means an ongoing effort to enhance your background.

Too many athletic administrators use the lack of budgeted money as an excuse for not providing professional development opportunities for coaches. Since there are alternative funding sources, coach education and certification have to be the highest priorities for every high school program.