The Mentoring Role of High School Girls’ Basketball Coaches in the Collegiate Recruiting Process

ABSTRACT

This study was designed to determine Louisiana high school girls’ basketball coaches’ perceptions of their roles as mentors; the impact coaches have on choices female athletes make regarding attendance in post-secondary education; the type of information possessed by the coaches to assist in these decisions; and whether the coaches perceived additional training related to collegiate recruiting was needed for coaches. Coaches reported a strong belief in their roles as mentors, have a disparity of beliefs regarding what students will face during the recruiting process and believe additional training would benefits themselves, their peers, and their athletes. It was further concluded a deficiency exists in the level of knowledge possessed by the coaches regarding recruiting rules and eligibility requirements

INTRODUCTION

The opportunities for high school girls’ basketball players to obtain college scholarships are plentiful and competitive. Eleven thousand college scholarships are available across the United States for young female athletes. As specialized teachers, coaches of student-athletes have a tremendous chance to influence and to change the lives of the individual under their charge (Nasir & Hand, 2008). According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), of the females who attend college, roughly 50,000 initially attend as or become student-athletes (2009b). For the student-athlete who attempts to use athleticism as a mechanism to garner assistance for college, the pressure to perform at high levels is a daily fact of life (Lawrence, Harrison, & Stone, 2009).

Lough (2001) examined the coaches’ role as mentors at the college level and how that interaction often drives a career choice by a graduating college student. The role mentors played in the study was significant. Issues such as developing relationships, understanding communication anomalies, and providing visible and connected examples of role models were key components driving college athletes to make significant career choices (Lough, 2001). However, no study could be found that addressed the objectives of this study, namely, the mentoring role of high school girls’ basketball coaches in the collegiate recruiting process.

PURPOSE AND OBJECTIVES

This study examined Louisiana girls’ high school basketball coaches’ perceptions of the mentoring relationship between aspiring basketball players and arguably the person with the most potential to assist the athlete during her collegiate recruiting process: Her high school coach. The objectives were to describe: (1) the coaches’ personal and demographic characteristics; (2) the coaches’ estimates of the collegiate athletic opportunities afforded to their female basketball players; (3) the coaches’ knowledge of academic standards and recruiting requirements for entry into collegiate athletics into the two primary organizations for collegiate basketball, the NCAA and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA); (4) the coaches’ perceptions of their role as mentor fortheir female high school athletes; (5) the coaches’ perceptions regarding the collegiate environment that student-athletes may encounter; and (6) the coaches’ perception regarding whether additional training is needed to strengthen the coaches’ knowledge of collegiate recruiting rules.

THEORETICAL/CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK

Kram’s mentor role theory (1985) provided the framework for this study. Kram indicated that mentoring involved a relationship that enriches individual progress and growth. She indicated that mentoring is comprised of either psychosocial or career components. The psychosocial functions build competence, effectiveness, and identity in the professional roles of mentors and mentees in areas such as role modeling, acceptance, confirmation, friendship, and counseling (Kram, 1985). Kram delineated four sub-areas within the career/professional aspect of the relationship: Exposure and visibility; sponsorship; protection; and coaching. Kram maintained that the relationship increased in benefit to the mentee as the mentor provided more of these functions. Mentoring is not a rigid relationship – mentors may be partially orcompletely meeting the mentor’s needs (Ragins & Cotton, 1999). Mentoring may have a delayed rather than immediate impact and the benefits may be realized over an extended period of time (Kram).

Ragins and Kram (2007) addressed the necessity of more research into the area of the “rising star” effect in a mentor-mentee relationship. In this study, we examined the recruitable athlete who is, in fact, the “rising star” the high school coach mentors on a periodic basis. With the evolved framework of Ragins and Kram (2007) firmly in mind, we examined the perception that the mentor (coach) has in terms of what he or she should be providing to the mentee.

Kram (1985) delineated four stages of the mentee-mentor relationship: Invitation, cultivation, separation, and redefinition. Kram’s theory relates to a 3-8 year relationship between adult professionals. Though our study relates to the relationship between an adult and mid to late teenagers (15-18 year old), the framework is similar. The Kram framework is applicable to the evolving relationship between the coach and his or her athlete who is being recruited to play at the collegiate level.

RELATED LITERATURE

The high school girls’ basketball coach is the focus of this research. The coach stands at the cross roads between the student-athlete and the college and a potentially life altering decision for a young athlete. The coach’s knowledge and perception of their role are critical for the student-athlete.

Coach Behavior and Immediacy

The coach’s influence on the athlete and the interaction between the coach and the athlete is the undergirding aspect in need of exploration. Turman’s (2008) study of the phenomenon of whether the coach’s verbal immediacy had an effect on both the individual and on the team identified a definitive link and a predictor of the satisfaction of the athlete both with the program (team) and with the coach. Turman (2003) also examined the amount of time players spent with and in close physical proximity to a coach. Though the focus of the study was on verbal and non-verbal immediacies, the extrapolation to the coach’s influence is unmistaken.

Donohue, Miller, Crammer, Cross, and Covassin (2007) highlighted the importance of the influence of the coach on the athlete. While the study had a four-pronged approach for measurement (i.e., looking at relationships with teammates, families, peers, and coaches), the primary outcome in relation to this study was the apparent dissatisfaction that a significant number of student-athletes have with their relationships with their coaches. Data indicated a wide area of strengths and weaknesses in the various relationships, but poor relationships with and among coaches are problematic.

Jowett (2005) chronicled a multi-faceted relationship between the coach and the athlete with the broad issue of behavior and interpersonal interactions at the core. Three schools of thought are provided in terms of the level of and depth of the relationship as they relate to the behavior of the coach: Effective versus ineffective relationships; successful versus unsuccessful relationships; and helping relationships. While athletics by its nature is “win oriented,” Jowett (2005) described a level of success that goes to developing a relationship that is both helpful to the coach and to the student.

What Is at Stake?

In addition to the intrinsic reward of earning an athletic scholarship, a great deal of costs and future earnings are also at stake for the student-athlete and within the power of influence by the coach. According to the U.S. government, the average per year cost in an average four-year college is approximately $10,000 per year. Private and some high prestige public institutions cost much more. In the near term, what is at stake is worth an average of $40,000 per student-athlete who earns a full scholarship (U.S. Department of State, 2009).

In the long term, the average lifetime earnings for a college graduate are $1.3 million more than the earnings of an average high school graduate. So, in addition to the near term cost of paying for an education, the college graduate has a better opportunity to earn higher life-time earnings than someone who does not attend college (University of Wisconsin-River Falls, 2009).

College Coaches: What Are They Seeking?

Possibly one of the most critical pieces of information a high school coach can know and be prepared to pass on to student-athletes is what a college coach is looking for when they are recruiting athletes. These traits include motivation/competitiveness, “coachability” (referring to an athlete’s propensity to receive and use instruction in a positive manner), the development potential of the athlete, the influence of the coach, influence of one’s teammates, and miscellaneous contextual influences as identified by Giacobbi et al. (2002) as key elements college coaches and recruiters are seeking in their scholarship athletes.

While these traits may seem like “common sense,” their existence and prevalence need to be communicated to the potential recruit by someone. The question arises as to “how” the future college athlete would know these things intrinsically? The rational assumption is someone would have to impart this knowledge and the ensuing rational step is that the high school coach is the most likely candidate to impart this information to the athlete (Lawrence et al., 2009).

Academic Preparation: Necessity of Preparation and Role of the Coach

A truly critical reality a coach should prepare students for is the rigor of academics at the collegiate level. Though the role of the coach is to prepare a student-athlete for competition at the high school level, this paper has established the fact the massive volume of time spent with the student-athlete affords the coach an unparalleled opportunity to provide both guidance and wisdom in terms of telling the student-athlete what life will be like once she leaves the friendly and comfortable confines of the high school environment.

The literature described in the next few paragraphs provides some startling data and anecdotal but believable stories of experiences of two high school students, Nate Miles and, Bryce Brown, upon reaching the collegiate level. A glaring missing piece in the equation is the role or lack of role high school coaches had in these students’ lives as they prepared to make critical decisions and in the terminal phase of high school as the student-athletes prepared for entry into college.

Thamel (2011) reported on the case of Nate Miles, a prized male recruit who lived an odyssey of an existence as a high school student. The young man who was the focus of the story reportedly moved five times during high school, mostly at the urging of “agent” type personnel who tried to convince the young man he had a great future as a collegiate and professional basketball player. Though Mr. Miles was a great player, the “whole person” concept of a solid student, solid person did not exist, and his path was shortened and blunted because of probable outside influences. The non-existence of a high school coach and mentor to guide the young man through these complicated waters is a gaping hole in the article and the story about a lost opportunity.

Evans and Thamel (2009) also reported on a case of a high profile high school football recruit who had his college career choices altered or denied because of his association with someone who was reportedly acting as his agent. Bryce Brown, a highly prized football player from Kansas had doors closed for him on more than one occasion when his association with a recruiting service raised questions regarding his eligibility. Upon his graduation from high school, Brown appeared to be en route to the University of Miami to play running back for the Miami Hurricanes. This association never materialized because of Brown’s association with a recruiting service. Though not related to basketball per se, the question immediately arises as to if this unfortunate route could have been diverted had Brown been influenced or led bya strong mentor and coach in his high school.

While the specifics of the cases are interesting, the implied lack of information provided to Mr. Brown and Mr. Miles are an indictment of an entire culture that develops around athletes. At the very crux and beginning of this process could be the influences of the high school coaches who guided these young people and helped prepare them for this eventuality.

A contrarian view was provided by Aries, McCarthy, Salovey, and Banaji in their 2009 study of over 1,100 non-athletes and over 400 athletes at two northeastern U.S. colleges. A review of athletes entering these colleges indicated while many entered college with lower academic credentials than their purely academic counterparts, the athletes performed at the norm across the time span of a college career, meaning they more or less achieved the grades and success the over 1,100 non-athlete peers achieved, as measured by entry expectations. In brief, data gathered indicated athletes performed at a level during college that was commensurate with their entry ACT/SAT scores and high school grade point averages. The point reverts back to the information the student-athlete has when she enters college: A coach or some other mentorshould be prepared to provide the student-athlete with this type of information and to make the student-athlete aware of the expectation for academic performance at the collegiate level. The article did not raise the question or influence of the coach or mentor who could have prepared the students for the eventualities of the college experience.

In a study similar to Adler and Adler’s earlier (1985) study, Horton (2009) drew some interesting conclusions based on a national qualitative study of 17 junior college athletes. The application to this study is compelling. Horton highlighted a perception at the junior college level that coaches and administrators were important both in academics and athletics. He emphasized the need for strong involvement from the academic side to support the athletic side and summarized the perceptions of students regarding the importance of academics and the faculty apparatus for the junior college student. Many of the issues faced and related in earlier literature citations were related by the students in Horton’s (2009) study, undergirding the assumption that preparation is the key for success in the post high schoollearning environment.

Harrison et al. (2009) described the perceptions of 88 male and female athletes on what would happen to them academically at the collegiate level. The study predicted and data affirmed that females at the collegiate level performed more poorly after their academic and athletic identities were linked by personnel on the campus. The inferred interpretation is these students were probably unaware of the pressures from academia that would become realities at the college level above and beyond which they found at the high school level. Oftentimes, students can be put on pedestals as high school athletes and given a pass or not have to worry about performing at the high school level (Stevens, 2006).

Though negative inputs and things to be “aware” of have made up the review of literature to this point, it should be noted that the inputs provided by a coach can not only help a student-athlete avoid bad things, but it can help a student-athlete understand some things that will work to her advantage during the recruiting process. Harrison et al. (2009) conducted an investigation of issues related to the recruiting of high profile athletes which produced some remarkable results. Though the survey was primarily aimed at high profile, African American male athletes, data was collected that related to and is relevant to the recruiting of female athletes.

Harrison et al.’s (2009) study codified a perception that many have suspected or observed casually through the years, primarily that prized recruits are given ‘red carpet’ or preferential treatment in the recruiting process, especially when the athlete shows up on campus for an official or unofficial visit. While this may be true, the knowledge of this reality could be easily used to the advantage of the student-athlete who desires entry into a more high profile or exclusive college. Phillips (2009) also addressed this subject and found preferential treatment for student-athletes in Alabama.

The Recruitment Process: Potential for Confusion

Lopez (1998) described the complexities and intensities of the recruitment process in a 1998 feature entitled Full Court Press. The experiences of a small number of highly recruited athletes are explained and chronicled. The details of the complexities of being recruited incessantly were described in the article as almost a warning to the parents, students, and coaches who will be on the receiving end of the process. The article described massive volumes of letters, phone calls, and the presence of coaches and scouting directors at events during the summer after a junior year and during the athlete’s senior year.

Along these same lines, Klungseth (2005) crafted an article which summarized the five most important recruiting rules a high school coach should know. Though broad in nature and covering overall NCAA rules, it does provide important details for basketball coaches. The article provides a concise overview of information high school coaches should be appraised of with regards to propriety and legality (in terms of the NCAA) during the recruiting process. The five items, while seemingly “common sense”, have acute and subtle meanings and definitions within the parameters of the NCAA guidelines. The rules and their applicability are the types of things that coaches should be fully apprised of if the day arrives when they have a recruitable athlete at their high school. Specifically, the rules/areas of concern listedare (1) limits on phone calls and contacts; (2) representatives of athletic interests; (3) offers and inducements; (4) official visits; and (5) national letters of intent. Within each of the five areas, more specific, sport specific rules are outlined and delineated. Though the information is simple on the face, the overlapping nature of issues such as school year guidelines (i.e., what happens during a junior year versus a senior year) are spelled out, sport specific rules are delineated, and references to NCAA publications are also provided.

The information relayed in the article is critical, but the question the article raises is how broadly is this information disseminated? How many high school coaches across the nation and across the state are aware of these specifics? Do coaches know the ramifications of recruiting guideline violations? Are coaches prepared to guide students through this complicated process?

Necessity for Enhanced Training, Certification or Mentorship

A key component of the study is to determine whether additional training is necessary for coaches. Review of the literature found no direct recommendations or studies tied to this train of thought. However, some studies have been conducted which broadly address the need for training and certification.

Maetozo (1971) published a series of essays addressing the need for certification of high school and junior high school coaches. He addressed the issue from the perspective of the need for standards in hiring and employing coaches. Several conclusions were drawn regarding the necessity of bringing in qualified individuals to lead athletes, with the primary conclusion being that states should consider establishment of certification programs to ensure qualified and competent individuals are hired as coaches. Outlines were provided as recommendations for states to use in implementation and statements were made that “several states” had initiated the programs, but the states were not delineated. It should be noted that the college recruiting process was not mentioned whatsoever in this article. Also, no evidencewas available in reviewing literature that any national or cohesive state certification programs had been adopted.

Bloom, Durand-Bush, Schinke, and Salmela (1998) addressed the issue of mentoring across a wide girth of sports in the country. As with the Maetozo study, a broad brush was used in the approach, but general applicability can be drawn. The key issue of coaches mentoring athletes was addressed and at length, with conclusions drawn regarding the necessity and benefit for the athlete. Of note, however, was that the authors highlighted a possible need for formalized mentoring programs.

Deficiencies/Limitations in Literature

There appears to be a significant gap in both the research conducted and the scholarly articles published in the areas of demographics of college athletes. Deficiencies were also noted in the areas of characterizations and analyses of coaches. Searches were conducted to characterize and codify the experience levels of coaches across the nation, and little was found. We sought to analyze the level of involvement and mentoring done by coaches with experience levels of coaches being held as independent variable, but little was uncovered in the review of literature. Additionally, we sought to uncover data on knowledge of coaches regarding recruiting rules and entry requirements for college-bound athletes, but little was found.

METHOD

The target and accessible population for this study was defined as all head coaches of girls’ basketball teams in Louisiana whose schools are members of the High School Athletic Association (HSAA). A random sample was drawn of head coaches of girls’ basketball teams in the state whose host/sponsor schools were members of the association in the Fall during the 2010-2011 academic school year. The minimum returned sample size (n = 119) was determined based on Cochran’s Sample Size Formula (Snedecor & Cochran, 1988). Since a return rate as low as 40% was anticipated, the sample size for the study was set at 224. No instrument which met the needs of the study could be located in the research literature; therefore, an instrument was developed by the research team that addressed the objectives of the study.Embedded within the instrument was an information inventory which measured coach perceptions and knowledge bases.

DATA COLLECTION

A multiple-phase approach was employed to collect data. The sample for the study was randomly selected from a master list of coaches in the state obtained from the state HSAA. The list consisted of coaches’ names, schools, physical mail addresses and electronic mail (email) addresses for each coach. We then proceeded with the pre-determined contact procedures. Two data collections letters with instruments were sent to the sample. For both mailed data collections, notification emails were transmitted to the sample by the research team as recommended by Kent and Turner (2003). Also in each instance, we sought and received the assistance of highly respected coaches who sent an e-mail message to all coaches in the research sample in which they endorsed the concept and encouraged participation in the project. In addition,in the second mailing, we included a single, dollar bill as an incentive and to incite additional attention to our survey packet on the part of potential respondents.

Personalized follow up phone calls to a random sample of non respondents were conducted to determine if the mail respondents were representative of the population as recommended by Gall, Gall, and Borg (2003). Twenty six (n=26) coaches in the random sample of 50 non-respondents returned the questionnaire. Independent samples t-tests were used to compare the means for key variables for the responses received during the telephone follow-up to those received by mail as recommended by Gall, Gall, and Borg (2003). No significant differences existed in the responses. Since no significant differences existed between the mail and telephone follow-up responses, it was concluded that the responses appeared to accurately represent the population of head girls’ high school basketball coaches in the state. The mail responses werecombined with the responses received as a result of the telephone follow-up for further analyses. The final response rate was 128 (57.14%) out of the 224 coaches in the random sample and this number exceeded the minimum of 119 responses required for the study.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

In data related to the first research objective, we discovered the population of coaches in the surveyed state was generally white, male, educated, and experienced. Over half (56%) of the head coaches in the state were male, 72% were Caucasian, the average head coach had 8.5 years of experience as a head coach, 15.2 years as a coach and 14.9 years as a classroom teacher. Slightly over two-thirds of the coaches (64%) reported having a bachelor’s degree as their highest level of education.

In the second objective, coaches in the state reported an average of 8.0 students during their career that had been recruited to play college basketball. We clarified the meaning of “being recruited” as a student-athlete receiving a letter, email, phone call or other direct interest by a NCAA or NAIA college or university. Further, the coaches reported 4.4 of their players having signed national letters of intent to play college basketball. Most of the coaches (76%) had at least one player who had been recruited during their career. However, only 25% of coaches reported having 10 or more players who had been recruited during the coaches’ career and 11% reported having 10 or more players who had signed national letters of intent to play at the collegiate level.

Of note was the relative scarcity of coaches having athletes who had been recruited. On the surface, one athlete per year who is recruited and each coach averages one every other year that signs a letter of intent or gains a scholarship, which seems like a fairly frequent occurrence. However, given the volume of students a teacher has in a classroom environment throughout the year or on a single or multiple sports teams, a single athlete every year or one every other year seems like a fairly rare occurrence.

In the third objective, the study also sought to describe the level of knowledge possessed by coaches regarding academic standards and requirements for entry into collegiate athletics in the two, primary playing organizations for collegiate basketball, the NCAA and NAIA (see Table 1). This was accomplished by administering a 10 question Information Inventory of basic entry and recruiting rules for athletes ascending into the two types of institutions. The mean score on the 10 question inventory was 5.52 (SD=1.88), suggesting the population of coaches in the state has some knowledge of entry and recruiting rules in the NCAA and NAIA, but gaps exist across the domain of institution types and playing levels. All items possessed strong item discrimination power according to the standards proposed by Bott (1996).

Over half of the coaches correctly answered questions related to the NCAA Division I entry and requirements. Responses indicated very strong understanding of ACT and grade point average requirements (81.3%) and a strong understanding of core curriculum requirements (64.8%). They also demonstrated a solid, consistent knowledge of recruiting and contact requirements and limitations (62.5% & 69.5%). The fact that all four questions directly related to Division I requirements had a majority of coaches answer correctly seems to indicate knowledge is more widely disseminated or there is more interest in those requirements than in other playing institutions.

Coaches were less familiar with Division II, Division III and NAIA requirements. For the three questions related to Division II, the participants correctly answered over 60% of the time for only one of the three questions and that instance was an overlapping question that was also applicable to Division I (types of communication that may not be used). In questions strictly dedicated to Division II, coaches answered correctly 32.8% of the time when asked about entry requirements (number of core courses required) and 56.3% of the time when asked about grade and ACT requirements. This deficiency was a stark drop off from the higher number of correct answers for questions related for Division I schools. Similar, if not more striking contrasts were drawn in certain areas related to Division III and NAIA requirements. Questionsrelated to Division III and NAIA recruiting rules registered responses as low as 21.9% and 30%.

The fourth objective sought to describe the coaches’ perceptions regarding their role in guiding and mentoring recruitable athletes under their tutelage (see Table 2). A four point, Likert-type scale was used to measure the coach’s perception of his role as a mentor to recruitable athletes. The Cronbach’s alpha for the scale was .88, which indicates the scale possessed extensive reliability (Robinson et al., 1991). Coaches gave their highest ratings to three questions: “I should be able to explain what it takes to become a recruitable athlete” (M = 3.74); “I should be a mentor to my recruitable players” (M = 3.71); and “I should assist my recruitable athletes in being prepared for the rigors of the college academic as well as athletic environment” (M = 3.56).Although the coaches still agreed with this item, the lowest rated item was “I should help recruitable athletes make wise life decisions such as choosing the correct college” (M = 3.713.22). Data related to this objective are found in Table 2.

The sixth objective was to measure perceptions with regard to whether new or additional training was considered necessary in terms of preparing or enhancing the coach’s knowledge base in recruiting related activities. As with the fifth objective, a Likert-type scale was used to measure the coach’s perception of whether new or enhanced training or certification would be beneficial to the coaches in general, to new coaches specifically, to the individual coach or to students in the coach’s school. The Cronbach’s alpha for the scale was .88, which indicates the scale possessed exemplary reliability (Robinson et al., 1991).

The coaches measured consistently in favor of enhanced training or certification in this section of the instrument. The coaches agreed with all five items in this scale. The lowest rated item was, “Additional certification or training requirements for high school coaches are necessary to ensure entry level coaches have the knowledge they need about the college recruiting process prior to entering a coaching position” (M = 2.86). All remaining questions registered above a 3.0 on the Likert-type scales. The intent of these questions was to assess what coaches believed regarding the necessity for training. The scale mean was M = 3.07 (SD =.57) which indicated that the coaches agreed that additional training was needed. Data from this objective are in Table 3.

CONCLUSIONS

The conclusions for this study apply only to high school girls’ basketball coaches in Louisiana.

Conclusions for Objective One: Coaches’ Characteristics

It is concluded the gender and ethnicity of the typical girls’ basketball coaches in the studied state are male and white, respectively. This conclusion is based on the finding that approximately 70% of girls’ basketball coaches are Caucasian and 56% are males. This conclusion is in contrast to the population in the State, where Caucasians (not including Hispanic origin) in the state was reported as 61% and African American as 32% in 2010, (United States Government, 2010). It is concluded coaches have the same level of education as their non-coaching, teacher counterparts. This conclusion is based on data gathered during the study and is consistent with State’s public statistics which indicate 35.9 percent of public school teachers in have a master’s degree or higher. Thirty-six percent of coachesin this survey reported having a degree above the bachelors level (MS, MS+30 or doctoral level).

It is concluded that female high school basketball players in the state are led by an experienced cadre of coaches. With an average of 15 years in the classroom, 15 years as a coach and nearly 9 years as a head coach, it is apparent that the state’s girls’ basketball players are coached by experienced personnel.

Conclusion for Objective Two: Athletes Who Were Recruited, Signed, or Accepted Scholarships

It is concluded that coaches routinely encounter recruitable athletes, but do not encounter an overwhelming number of athletes who are recruited or signed to become college basketball players. On average, a head coach has just under one student-athlete per year who receives recruiting interest from an NCAA or NAIA school, making this occurrence not rare, but also not a predominant action in the life of a coach. The figure of one student-athlete per year was derived by comparing the average number of players recruited (M = 8.59) to the characterization in Objective One in which it was revealed the average head coach in the state has been in his or her position for approximately nine years. This conclusion is in contrast to the analysis reported by the National High School Center (2009) which indicated that one in six schoolswill experience a scholarship type student-athlete on an annual basis. There is a deficiency of data concerning the average number of athletes that coaches have contact with who are recruited, sign letters of intent, or garner scholarships.

Conclusion for Objective Three: Knowledge of NCAA & NAIA Recruiting Rules.

It is concluded coaches have limited knowledge of recruiting rules and entry requirements among the four types of playing levels for recruitable athletes. This conclusion is based on the finding that the coaches test score was 52% (out of a possible 100%) on an Information Inventory which asked questions about NCAA Division I, II, III (NCAA, 2009a) and NAIA (NAIA, 2010) entry requirements and recruiting rules. This conclusion conflicts with the framework proposed by Kram (1985) which pre-supposes the mentor will possess a superior knowledge of key areas of importance to a mentee. The conclusion also is in contrast to the rules Klungseth (2005) cited as important for coaches.

Conclusion for Objective Four: Coach’s Role

It is concluded coaches believe they have a role across a range of responsibilities in terms of mentoring their recruitable athletes. This conclusion is supported by Jowett (2005) and Donohue et al. (2007) who found that the relationship between the athlete and the coach during the recruiting process is critical. On the Likert-type scale used in this portion of the research study, the respondents registered their highest collective score, 3.72 out of 4.0, strongly agreeing their roles as mentors were real, important and wide ranging. Of concern: It is illuminating to compare the acknowledgment for an across the board need and benefit for new training with the relatively poor results achieved by the coaches in the Information Inventory. It is also encouraging to compare this eagerness for training with the resolute agreementamong coaches regarding their roles as mentors.

Conclusion for Objective Five: Expectations Regarding Collegiate Environment

It is concluded coaches believe treatment for athletes at the collegiate level will be composed of both mildly negative treatment and mildly positive preferential treatment. This conclusion is based on the finding that coaches believe athletes will face both negative stigmas (2.61 on 4.0 Likert-type scale) and encounter positive preferential treatment (2.52 on 4.0 Likert-type scale) while in college, simply because they are athletes. The coaches indicated an understanding that the environment an athlete will face will have inequities and athletes could face both positive and negative treatments. This finding is consistent with and illustrative of the cases of Nat Miles (Thamel, 2011) and Bryce Brown (Evans and Thamel), both athletes whose lives took unfortunate turns because they were probably not well informed of collegiateexpectations. While coaches were consistent in their views on this topic; there were no strong positive or negative feelings on the topic.

Conclusion for Objective Six: Necessity for Additional Training for the State’s High School Basketball Coaches

It is concluded coaches believe additional training for themselves and their peers is necessary and this training would benefit both coaches and athletes. This conclusion was based on the concurrence provided by the coaches (3.07 on 4.0 Likert-type scale) in the research indicating the need for additional training for themselves, their peers and the benefit training would provide their schools and athletes. The coaches indicated a belief that additional training or certification would be beneficial for themselves, their peers and recruitable athletes. In the strongest level of concurrence within this objective (3.27 out of 4.0) the coaches indicated a belief that all coaches would benefit by additional training and certification, indicating a consistency across the population that this was necessary. The weakest level ofconcurrence (2.86 out of 4.0) was related to the question of whether or not training was needed for entry-level coaches. This conclusion was consistent with Maetozo’s (1971) and Bloom et al.’s (1998), recommendations and discussions of the need for training and certification.

RECOMMENDATIONS AND APPLICATIONS IN SPORTS

Coaches were the primary focus of this research, and data in this report should be illuminating to them. The information should also be applicable to athletic directors and to HSAAs that administer state-wide programs. It is apparent that HSAAs should examine the necessity for an enhanced training or certification program for girls’ high school basketball coaches. Several key facts established in the study merged to drive this recommendation. First of all, coaches registered solid concurrence that: (A) They believe their roles as mentors are important; and (B) They believe additional training would be beneficial to themselves, their peers and their students. These two facts, standing alone, indicate both recognition of the critical role of the coach and a self-reflection regarding a necessity for self and communityimprovement.

Secondly, results from the Information Inventory indicate a deficiency in the knowledge base of recruiting rules and requirements. No evidence or literature was found which provided an indication coaches have any formal training on the recruiting rules and entry requirements for athletes who play basketball in the NCAA or NAIA. The researchers recommend additional training or certification could be in order for the population of coaches and that this training could result in benefits for girls’ basketball players.

Even though coaches expressed the need for additional training or certification, a concern exists regarding the apparently low number of athletes who signed national letters of intent or garnered scholarships. On average, a coach has one athlete each year that is the subject of recruiting attention and has one who receives a scholarship or signs a national letter of intent every other year. With figures this low, the question to be posed is whether additional training is truly merited to enhance or potentially help such a small number of athletes. Though the coaches believe additional training would be beneficial, a cost-benefit analysis would have to be made to determine the utility of such a new program or mandate.

It is recommended the knowledge base of all coaches throughout the state be assessed, with possible expansion to coaches across the south or the country. Though this study was focused on girls’ basketball coaches, the entire population of coaches in the state may benefit from additional training or certification. The snap shot of coaches in one sport indicates a possible deficiency in knowledge but a willingness to learn and recognition that more training could be valuable. The existence of this limitation in one sport in a Southern state could be a clarion reminder that many student-athletes are not getting the information or, more importantly, the mentoring they need to ascend to a higher level of education and thus a better life.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

None

REFERENCES

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