"Rants and Raves" is an open forum for coaches to discuss topics, ranging from issues to observations on the state of college basketball and beyond.
The Future of Coaching
By Don Harnum, Rider

It’s been nearly eighteen months since every division I college basketball coach met, in Chicago, for an emergency summit meeting. So much has happened since that many fans and media types have probably forgotten the purpose of that gathering. The summer of 2003 was marred by some unfortunate happenings that shook up the coaching profession and the purpose of the Chicago Summit was to take steps to ensure a better future. Many were skeptical at the time and still more have wondered if anything positive ever came from that meeting. Not much has been written or spoken, in regards to the past eighteen months, but the fact of the matter is that the National Association of Basketball Coaches has taken some major steps forward.

When Dave Magarity left Marist College he also vacated his seat on the NABC Congress. Mr. Portly and Stout got me involved as his replacement. My brief time spent on the Congress has been nothing short of eye opening. While I still have concerns in regards to specific matters, my overall impression is that the NCAA and the NABC are really making every effort to do the right thing. In my opinion, the problem lies not with the NCAA or our member organization, but with boosters, administrators and others not a part of the coaching profession. Until we get a full commitment from this group, there will continue to be difficulties in moving forward on every issue.

As an organization we are concerned about the ethics of our members, but as Kelvin Sampson pointed out in his feature for CollegeInsider.com, 99% of our profession is all about ethics. However, the message being sent from administrations puts many coaches in an awkward -- if not a compromising -- position. It’s created an almost “win-at-all-cost” mindset. When Tyrone Willingham was fired, the administration commented that they were completely satisfied with what happened between Sunday and Friday. Academics, conduct on and off the field and every other aspect of that football program was without flaw. They just weren’t happy with the results produced on Saturday afternoons. Those remarks were very telling and sent a bad message to coaches at all levels and in all sports.

Many in the college basketball world feel that we are getting lip service from the leaders of the NABC, but the people really providing the contradictory words are those in the administrations. Not all, but enough to create problems for everyone. Until hiring’s and firing’s are based on the things that we have preached to us, this problem will continue. We are in danger of having our profession become just like the professional ranks where it’s all about winning and nothing else really matters.

The fact that Myles Brand and his entire NCAA staff have taken an active role in the future of our game is nothing short of critical. They have heard our complaints and have taken the time to listen. Can they solve every individual’s concerns? Unlikely, but there have already been great inroads made to make the necessary changes. Most importantly, relaying our concerns to administrators. When and only when we are able to bridge that gap, will we see a betterment of our profession. The direct involvement from the NCAA can only be viewed as a positive.

My conference, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, has sponsored some rules changes and our thoughts have been looked at and in some cases implemented. No one in the MAAC expects all of our concerns to be addressed, but the NABC has listened and taken into account our major concerns. As coaches in the MAAC we all understand that it’s difficult to satisfy all our needs, as our needs are in some cases very different from those of other leagues, big or small. Division I college basketball is defined by diversity and varying circumstances. There is a clear-cut pecking order, which no one can deny and that fact prohibits the passage of rules that fit everyone’s needs. Many things will benefit higher-profile programs and their coaches much more than the majority, but that doesn’t mean that things are not improving on a whole.

I am fortunate in that I am directly involved in the progress that we have made over the past 12-24 months. If we have any immediate shortcomings it might be that we need to get this message out to our members. Not just division I head coaches, but coaches at every level. This forum is great in that it allows us to share our thoughts 365 days a year, as opposed to our three or four days of face time at the Final Four.

Those who know me well know that I am not one to sugar coat anything. If I didn’t like what I saw from the hierarchy of the NABC I would be one of the first to voice my opinion. There hasn’t been much ink on this subject lately, but that doesn’t mean that a lot of progress has not been made.