In small athletic departments, particularly at the NCAA Division III level, the challenge of building effective coaching staffs can be great because financial and other barriers often limit the pool of job applicants. This challenge is often addressed by hiring former athletes who have just graduated from the same program. This consultation-based study analyzed the positive and negative effects of hiring former athletes as assistant coaches within the same institution. Findings indicated that advantages of hiring former athletes include a reliable assessment of fit, quick time for socialization and valuable contribution, and already established trust between all parties. Disadvantages included limitations on specialization, a dearth of new ideas and new innovations, and issues caused by the role transition from former athlete to coach or assistant coach. Recommendations offered for practice include broadening the search for candidates, and for internal hires, external training and development, and assistance for role transitions.
Roach is with Texas Lutheran University, Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, Seguin, Texas; Dixon is with the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX.