Prospect Communication's Youth Sports Blog - "Taking You Beyond the Game!", features our own articles and commentaries that deal specifically with youth sports. Browse the site to read any articles that may be of interest to your sports organization. The articles are copyrighted to the authors (Michael Langlois & Mary-Louise Langlois) and they may not be reproduced without permission. To inquire about licensing the right to reproduce any of the site's content please contact us at inquiries@prospectcommunications.com

Prospect has a unique and specialized approach to communications skills and issues management geared towards those involved with youth and minor sports. Michael and Mary-Louise's work in this area is ideal for parents and coaches who want to make the most of children's involvement in sports.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hiring a new coach often seems to take precedence over ethics

Maybe “ethics” is too strong a word, but it has always been a concern to me when sports organizations fire a head coach and immediately—on the very same day— turn around and announce his or her replacement.

My concern? 

Well, since, especially in this day and age of lawyers, agents, advisors and such realities, hiring a new coach takes a long time. Given the complexities of finalizing contractual arrangements, one thing is clear:  while the now former coach was still very much on the job and trying to do that job to the best of their ability, the organization was interviewing and negotiating with their replacement.

Recent examples?  In the National Hockey League, three teams have recently made changes this season—the St. Louis Blues, Carolina Hurricanes and Washington capitals.  In each instance, the “new” coaches (Ken Hitchcock, Kirk Muller and Dale Hunter) clearly “knew” they were getting the jobs while the previous coach was still coaching games and running practices.

It just seems to be a deceitful way to run a business, though not uncommon in the world of high-level, “what-have-you-done-for-me-lately” professional sports.  There was a similar situation that cropped up in the English soccer Premier League within the last year or so.  The incoming coach was signed, sealed and delivered when the outgoing guy was still on the sidelines.

Not classy—and not right.

A glaring example, of course, is what has just happened at Ohio State with their football program.  So apparently desperate was the school to hire another big-game (after they pretty much had to let Jim Tressel go this past off-season), they obviously had negotiated with Urban Meyer to be their new coach, even though the incumbent, Luke Fickell, was preparing his team for their biggest game of the season, against arch-rival Michigan.

While Meyer was denying a deal was done, it is now clear that he will, in fact (and of course) be the new coach.  (Interestingly, when Meyer stepped down from his last job not even a year ago, citing health factors and claiming he needed to spend more time with family.)

Too often college coaches, for example, leave a team or program and jump ship to another, because the timing suits them, even if it leaves their former employer, players or school in the lurch.  Bobby Petrino and Nick Saban are two names that pop to mind in this regard.

And, as recently as the end of the just-concluded Major-League baseball season, long-time Chicago White Sox manager was so anxious to take on his new job in Miami, that he left the White Sox on the final weekend of the season, not even fulfilling his existing contract to the end of the season.  He could not wait  two more days to make it "official".

So yes, sadly, it works for ways.

Is it just the way things have to be?  Absolutely not.  But it seems to be the way some organizations –and even institutions of “higher learning”—have to do business.

And it’s a shame.