Princeton Times


December 21, 2012

‘There ought to be some qualifications to be a coach’

PRINCETON — The Mercer County Board of Education is not happy with the state requirements to select athletics coaches.

Board member Edward “Ted” Gillespie told his fellow board of education members that some qualifications should be required to allow someone to coach a sport. He believed that the coaches should have played or coached the sport before in order to coach in Mercer County.

“There ought to be some qualifications to be a coach,” Gillespie said. “That’s a heck of an environment to put someone in if they don’t know what they’re doing.”

Paul Hodges pointed out that he had little experience with cross country running when he assumed the role of a coach. He said that he had to ask his principal what the principal had asked him to do. Then he added that he had been twice named West Virginia Cross Country Coach of the Year.

Superintendent Deborah Akers told Gillespie that the state allowed principals to differentiate between candidates at the same level of qualification by looking at their experience and knowledge of the sport.

However, the state mandates that if a certified teacher and a non-certified teacher apply for the same position, that the position go to the certified teacher, regardless of their experience or lack thereof with the sport.

Board President Greg Prudich said that he too felt uncomfortable with the selection process of coaches. He again pointed out his “Coach K” rule to the board.

“If Coach K came and applied for a job to coach basketball in Mercer County and a certified teacher applied,” Prudich said. “We’d have to hire that teacher even if they didn’t have any experience, and that’s when you reach a point of absurdity.”

Prudich added that West Virginia actually required volunteer coaches to pay to coach a sport. He explained that in order to be certified by the West Virginia Secondary Schools Athletic Commission, a class was required that potential coaches had to pay for.

Gillespie brought the focus of the meeting back to his concerns. He explained that it bothered him that a person was applying for a job in coaching weight training and he didn’t know the person’s experience at the position.

“We’re putting our athletes at a disadvantage,” Prudich agreed. “And with weight training could be a liability issue as well.”

Akers reminded the board that getting the state law changed was something that they could approach the legislators about when they met on Jan. 15.

— Contact Matt Christian at

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