Coach negotiations stagnate over professional development, job security
Feb. 1, 2024
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Coaches still have deep concerns about job security and professional development, APSCUF leaders said after their negotiation team left this week’s bargaining session with Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education. The Wednesday meeting extended into the evening, with the two sides in general agreement over most topics; however, they were far apart on two important issues — professional development and job security — said John Gump, coach executive leader of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties.
The System does not want to provide professional-development support to coaches, Gump said. Some coaches begin their jobs being paid below Federal Poverty Income Guidelines for a two-person household, as published by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, Gump explained, yet coaches are evaluated on their professional development.
“It is absurd that coaches should be expected to entirely foot the bill,” Gump said. “The universities are setting people up for failure. They have rejected even the most modest amounts of support, amounts that would still leave the coach having to pay significantly out-of-pocket.”
System coaches must work for five years before there is any guarantee of a two- or three-year contract of employment, explained APSCUF President Dr. Kenneth M. Mash. A university may choose not to renew a contract for any reason, and there is nothing that prevents the institution from being arbitrary or discriminatory in its decision, he said. Further, coaches are evaluated every year, but a coach can be non-renewed, even if their evaluations are glowing, he said. Mash expressed his frustration that the State System will not budge on this job-security issue.
“It is preposterous that the System wants to preserve its right to be discriminatory, to make decisions that sandbag coaches who have had good evaluations, and to maintain a probationary period that is ridiculously long compared with other state employees,” Mash said. “Let’s be clear: We are not talking about coaches with million-dollar, multiyear contracts; the main job of our coaches is to guide their student-athletes to a degree while providing them with a rewarding experience that builds their character and enhances their life skills. There is no reason that universities should be so disrespectful. Even when our coaches have asked for the most minimal of changes, the response is a simple ‘no.’ Nobody should be treated this way. Our coaches deserve respect.”
The two sides are scheduled to meet again in February. The current four-year contract expired June 30, 2023; it remains in effect while negotiations continue. Negotiators have not set a date by which they expect to complete contract talks.
APSCUF faculty negotiators reached an agreement in principle in mid-January.
APSCUF represents about 5,000 faculty and coaches at the State System campuses: Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock, and West Chester.