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Participating in sport: a mutual privilege.

One of the A.D.'s primary responsibilities is to develop a relationship with his most important constituency - the student-athletes

Every new school year ushers in a fresh challenge to the director of athletics in our high schools, colleges, and universities. The fields, courts, gymnasiums, and other athletic venues are filled with student-athletes preparing for varsity competition, and the long months ahead afford the athletic administrators a great opportunity to bond with the young people in their charge.

Too often the daily task of managing human resources, fiscal responsibilities, and the many other duties will restrict the athletic director's opportunity to interface with the student-athletes, the A.D.'s most important constituency.

While the administrator must necessarily focus on programs and services for the student-athlete, the cultivation of a mutually respectful relationship must always remain a primary obligation.

Administrators may begin with the development of a student athletic handbook that will foster a greater understanding and appreciation for the program.

The following topics are worthy of inclusion in every student handbook:

* departmental mission statement

* eligibility regulations

* academic policies

* physicals, medical insurance, and athletic training

* team travel

* alcohol and substance abuse policies

* athletic discipline

* institutional policy and sexual harassment

* departmental rules and regulations

A myriad of other topics, specific to the individual program, can promote a greater understanding of institutional expectations. The athletic administrator may:

1 Form a student-athlete advisory council made up of one student-athlete from each team, to help promote open communication and provide coaches and administrators with an opportunity to share information with the student-athletes in an established and meaningful manner.

2 Schedule time every week in which to visit practices and contests. Many administrators impair their careers by losing touch with the program because of their involvement in too many other pursuits. By reserving a 30-minute time slot each day to observe a practice, administrators can enhance their visibility and demonstrate their interest in all the programs.

3 Attend team functions. Most administrators are content with attending only the season-ending banquet. It is equally important to show up at parents' day functions, team-funding initiatives, and numerous other events.

4 Search committee delegate. Select a student-athlete to serve on personnel search committees - someone who will be given a representative voice in personnel matters, and especially in the hiring of coaches.

This kind of appointment will legitimize the critical role of the student-athletes in the program and acknowledge the fact that student-athletes have the maturity, responsibility, and willingness to contribute in a meaningful way to the search process.

5 Travel with the teams. Arrange a trip to an away game with each team. Van, bus, and airplane transportation provides a great way to interface with the youngsters. It also offers an opportunity to devote one's undivided attention to the team and to develop an understanding of the physical and emotional demands placed on the competitors.

Obviously, all of this represents just a small percentage of the opportunities that athletic administrators have to cultivate a relationship with the student-athletes.

Administrators cannot afford to neglect or ignore this area. Student-athletes are the foundation of the programs, and the administrator must develop a thorough understanding of the challenges and sacrifices indigenous to the program.

Participating in a sports program is a privilege, and so too is the administration of the program.
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Copyright 1995, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Diles, David L.
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Date:Dec 1, 1995
Words:549
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