The college Head Coach has a diverse job that varies with responsibilities based upon the sport they are coaching. The “lifeblood” of a coach’s ability to be successful at the college level is usually directly tied to recruiting. Football, as an example, usually has an assistant coach who is specifically responsible for recruiting. Individual sports like cross country, golf and tennis often have a single head coach who is responsible for all facets, from recruiting to running the team budget.
Additionally, coaches at smaller schools may be responsible for organizing schedules, planning out-of-town game accommodations and travel, inventory of equipment and ordering uniforms. The gamut of responsibilities only touches on strategy and is more often focused on paperwork. Many larger schools will delegate the paperwork responsibilities to assistant coaches, athletic directors in charge of operations and secretarial staff. Junior college and small college head coaches will often shoulder the majority of the burden of paperwork and the reward for their success is the opportunity to move up to a job where much of the busy work is completed by someone else.
It is extremely rare to find a head coach that did not at some point in their life, play the sport they are coaching at a highly competitive level. In other words, those with aspirations in coaching, should have a solid resume of their own, showing a record of success in competition. An AD looking to hire a new head coach will want to be assured that his or her student-athletes will be mentored by a person of great skill and knowledge of the sport. A coach’s ability to inspire his or her athletes based on their own athletic prowess and accomplishment can go very far in creating a successful program.
Perhaps more than any other role in a collegiate athletic department, the head coach works extremely long hours. Because every aspect of the team and its players is ultimately a reflection on the coach, he or she will spend long hours after practices and games, analyzing game play and strategy, training regimens, recruitment activity, player performance, and short and long term goal setting.
Qualifications. A Bachelor’s is required for small college and junior college coaches while universities often will look for candidates who have earned a Master’s degree. Also, either an extensive coaching history and/or a significant resume as an athlete are required for the opportunity to be a head coach.
Salary Ranges. Junior College coaches may make as little as a $5,000 stipend while smaller colleges are in the $35,000 range. The university-level head coach in major sports can make well over $1,000,000 in basketball and football, with incentives from outside sources (speaking, sponsors, television and radio, etc), while smaller sports like volleyball, swimming, golf may make in the $50,000 to 100,000 range.