The Drake Group believes that most coaches act responsibly and in the best interests of their players. Even when using now-unacceptable pedagogy, most coaches do so without malicious intent. However, adequate evidence shows that the coaching profession is without clear and consistent standards and that absent such guidelines, too many coaches, albeit a minority, are crossing the line that separates good practice from harm to athletes. Higher education institution codes of conduct applicable to faculty and staff were also examined and found to be too generic and insufficient to address the elevated risks that exist in athletic programs. Further, the importance of winning athletics contests, the multimillion dollar investment in high profile coaches, the relative isolation of athletics practices and locker rooms, which, by nature, are secretive and hidden from public view, and institutions’ practice of allowing coaches to resign without exposure to protect the institution’s brand, create significant conflict-of-interest concerns about the investigation and adjudication of misconduct. Lastly, the extraordinary power of a coach in athletic settings, with control over access to skill-instructional time, the granting and renewal of athletics financial aid, and decisions related to playing time creates a student/coach power differential that is far greater than the differential between student and professor. All of these considerations argue for ensuring that athletes are protected from abuse.
Because professional coaching organizations enforce no national coaching standards, national collegiate athletic governance associations must step into this void. School and college administrators need to know these standards in order to exercise proper supervision and address the serious instances of coaching misconduct increasingly reported in the media. Clear and consistent standards coupled with the assignment of education and enforcement responsibilities are needed to protect college athletes.
The Drake Group offers seven detailed recommendations regarding athletic governance organization and institutional responsibilities related to professional coaching conduct. See the full Position Statement and Recommendations.