SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey (SEC photo)

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SEC’s Sankey Pens Letter Supporting Third Assistant

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Editor’s Note: Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey wrote this letter in support of adding a compensated third assistant coach for baseball and softball. The letter was distributed to SEC head coaches, Division I council members and Division I conference commissioners.

I am writing in advance of the NCAA Division I Council’s April 2019 meeting to share the Southeastern Conference’s support for Proposal 2018-34, which is intended to convert the volunteer coach position to a countable coach position in the sports of baseball and softball. This proposal is an important measure for both sports as it will better support the teaching, coaching, and development of student-athletes, and provide additional opportunities for entry in to the coaching profession.

The following are important factors in support of this proposal:

  • Adopting Proposal 2018-34 will provide each institution with decision making authority related to coaching staff size and compensation, while better supporting the developmental needs of student-athletes in sports that involve a diverse set of skills (e.g., hitting, pitching, catching).
  • While this proposal will transition the volunteer coach position to a countable coach position and thereby eliminate the volunteer coach position under NCAA legislation, individual institutions will have full discretion to employ, compensate, and utilize the services of the fourth countable coach position as they deem appropriate based upon their specific circumstances and priorities. For example, baseball and softball programs that currently support a volunteer coach through camp revenue, campus employment, or other employment opportunities will be permitted to employ and utilize that individual as a regular countable coach using the same financial approach.
  • Transitioning the volunteer coach to a countable coach will better support the well-being and development of current student-athletes as it will permit additional relationship building, individualized coaching, and personalized instruction through the increased availability of a countable coach. This will be particularly helpful in baseball, which currently has one of the highest student-athlete to coach ratios of all major NCAA-sponsored team sports at approximately 12 student-athletes to each countable coach.
  • Nearly all Division I institutions currently utilize a volunteer coach in baseball and softball. Shifting that position to a countable coach will enhance the development of individuals serving in these roles by providing opportunities to perform all the duties of a regular countable coach. Adjusting the position will also provide increased opportunities for individuals to pursue entry into legitimate and sustainable coaching positions, including notably recent former student-athletes seeking to identify an off-the-field career path. The attraction and development of a diverse and qualified pool of emerging coaches who will lead our student-athletes in the future is the lifeblood of our organization and it is important that we continue to increase these efforts.
  • Transitioning the volunteer coach to a countable coach will allow for an additional off-campus recruiter, which will provide flexibility to facilitate a full-time coaching staff member remaining on-campus with student-athletes on a more consistent basis, especially during the busy spring months. This adjustment will also have a positive impact on the well-being of current countable coaches as programs will be able to distribute the heavy recruiting and coaching load associated with a large squad size among four countable coaches.

I therefore encourage the Division I Council’s support to enhance the sports of baseball and softball, now and into the future, by voting in favor of Proposal 2018-34 at the April meetings of the Division I Council.

Sincerely,

Greg Sankey

Commissioner

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