Should coaches care about the student-athlete experience?

By August 6, 2015 No Comments

Try to think back at your days as a college athlete. Now answer the question, “who was in charge of your student-athlete experience?”
– Was it your athletic director?
– Was it your academic adviser?
– Was it your life skills coordinator?
– Was it your coach?’

I have a feeling that every former and current college athlete will answer “coach” or “Yes Coach” (out of habit) . Don’t get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for everyone in the athletic department, but the reality is that the coach has the most power over the athlete and his or her individual student-athlete experience.

If this is the reality, why are most coaches not involved in planning curriculum around the SA experience? I think the short answer is they do not see the personal value in it or how it could relate to on field success. Winning and a positive SA experience does not have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, I am convinced that having a positive integrated SA experience curriculum can lead to on the court/field success. Here’s how:

Winning in college athletics can be broken down to one thing, recruiting the best talent. The problem is that most colleges have the same things to offer. These offerings boil down to scholarship money, education, and playing time. Coaches are always striving to find a differentiator to set themselves apart from their competitors. This differentiator could be the university’s student-athlete experience, illustrated in the following fictitious, but not unrealistic recruiting conversation.

Great to see you Sally and Mr. and Mrs. Student-Athlete please have a seat. On top of a full scholarship, a great education, and playing time our athletic department has an unparalleled student-athlete experience. Our SA experience includes an integrated curriculum around the transition into college and ultimately the workforce. Topics include choosing a major that matches your interests and career goals as well as developing professional and interpersonal skills. Did I mention we assist with job placement? In fact 80% of our graduating seniors have full time employment in careers related to their major.

How can a student-athlete and a parent say no to that? It is no secret that the “integrated curriculum” described above is our software platform Game Plan College. Putting that aside, I believe it is time for the coaches to get involved in the discussion of the student-athlete experience. Not only because it will help them win the recruiting war, but because it is the right thing to do.