I’ve never really liked the phrase “part-time”.

Whether it referred to whatever job I had or anything else, part-time was never as good as full-time.

That’s what I was thinking about recently when I did a story about two local schools hiring new athletic directors. Both schools had hired new administrators and both were filling part-time positions.

It wasn’t too many years ago that both these schools, Jay and Monmouth, had full-time athletic directors. Now with budget cuts and the scaling back of jobs and salaries, a full-time athletic director may seem like a luxury to smaller schools or at least, an unnecessary expense.

I don’t like the sound of that. I see a trend developing in which schools scale down athletic director jobs and the athletic programs ultimately pay the price.

I once thought, for a fleeting moment, that being an athletic director would be a pretty fun job to have. Then I came to my senses and recognized the amount of time and work that goes into the job. I see it all the time as athletic administrator’s have little personal time or family time while managing and maintaining the local school’s athletic programs. The good AD’s I see devote far more than a full-time amount of hours to their job, often because they have to and often because they want to.

As athletic administrators see their jobs get trimmed and limited, it can only negatively effect how the athletic programs are organized, managed and maintained. Being the head of an athletic program takes full-time attention and that’s not easy to do on a part-time basis. I fear the people that are making the decision to trim these jobs don’t realize how imperative it is to have a quality leader and manager in the role of athletic administrator.

I think what ultimately could happen is what we see in the coaching ranks regularly now. Coaches don’t last long in their positions. They either move to better opportunities, give up coaching, make career moves, are driven out or decide it just isn’t worth the time and effort any longer. As more and more coaches change over, the pool for quality coaches lessens. That forces schools to bring in lesser qualified and lesser experienced coaches. Some pan out just fine but other’s don’t. Then the cycle begins again.

It reaches the point where any coach will do. If you have a little bit of experience, have the time and the desire to give it a whirl, the job is yours. In this day and age in which the atmosphere isn’t really conducive to throw the unprepared coach into the fire, it probably happens more than it should. That isn’t good for any coach, any athlete or any athletic program.

It doesn’t take long for unprepared or unqualified coaches to realize that they’re in over their heads. They can bail out easy enough but the players and the program suffer the most.

Take that scenario and put it in the context of athletic directors.  When AD’s are just part-time, they likely have other jobs and responsibilities, either inside or outside of the school – or both. Imagine a person trying to juggle all the duties of an athletic director for part-time money while handling all the other facets of their life – both professional and personal. How long do you figure they’ll last in the AD’s job? Unfortunately, the answer will likely be not long.

That leads to one AD being replaced by another. With each new transition the experience likely lessens and the long-term commitment to the job is limited also. It will mean that schools could be hiring new AD’s that aren’t as qualified, not as experienced and not as competent to handle the rigors of the job, especially on a part-time basis.

That can’t be good for the athletic programs. Each year, the need is greater and greater for administrators that can manage and maintain our school’s programs. The teams, coaches and athletes rely on that leadership and experience. It is a job that can’t be treated as though it is expendable.

I hope a scenario like this doesn’t materialize. The way schools are cutting back and looking for ways to save money, the athletic department is an easy target. Concluding that an athletic administrator’s role is simply a part-time one could ultimately be a full-time mistake.

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