Column: College coaches need discipline for leaving

2013-01-30T22:27:00Z Column: College coaches need discipline for leavingRex Sheild
January 30, 2013 10:27 pm  • 

When the Philadelphia Eagles announced Oregon head football coach Chip Kelly was taking his talents to the City of Brotherly Love, it did not come as a shock to me.

Simply put, it would not be a normal college football offseason without a high-profile coach leaving his allegiance at the doorstep of a university. Wisconsin fans don’t need to look any further than former head coach Bret Bielema leaving for pastures supposedly greener and jumping ship to the SEC.

While I have always been naive of the fact the world of college football is a big business, I have finally come to the realization that it is truly because of the situation at hand.

In this day and age, coaches can pack their bags and potentially leave an entire program in limbo with no strings attached, unlike the student-athletes who have to sit out a year per NCAA rules.

If a coach sees an opportunity to make more money, pay his assistants more, take over a more prestigious program or whatever the reason may be, the NCAA has absolutely no problem with it.

On the other hand, if a student-athlete feels the particular program is not the right fit for him because of playing time, the coaching staff, academics, etc., the NCAA has been strong in its stance of having the players miss out on a year’s worth of game experience, though they do not lose a year of eligibility. That’s simply not fair and not right.

The NCAA constantly stresses college athletics is all about the welfare of the student-athletes but I am still finding that hard to believe.

Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said it best on the Dan Patrick Show when discussing Bielema’s departure. “I know the business.” Alvarez thinks otherwise and he’s right. It is a business rather than serving the welfare of the student-athletes.

Not only does a quick bolt from coaches leave the athletic administration in a tough position, scrambling to find the best replacement possible, it leaves the student-athletes and even recruits in an arguably tougher position.

The student-athletes are forced to prove themselves all over again on the gridiron and recruits are left guessing about the biggest decision of their young lives.

In fact, Oregon’s four-star recruit (who since flipped his commitment to rival USC) Nico Falah was left blind-sided by Kelly’s departure, tweeting: “Chip Kelly left?!?! He was at my house 2 days ago.”

The jury is still out on the reason(s) behind why Kelly left a consistent national title contender. Was it because of more zeros in his contract? Maybe. Was it because of potential NCAA sanctions on the horizon? That’s a good possibility and probably more likely.

Just ask Pete Carroll what he did when Southern Cal was under NCAA investigation. He traded in the SC dynasty he built for a NFL job without any repercussions from the NCAA, leaving the program to face the wrath of severe sanctions.

Those sanctions included former star running back Reggie Bush forfeiting the most coveted trophy in college sports and the current players he left behind losing out on postseason play.

I completely understand the notion of coaches chasing their dreams—whether it be in the NFL or to another collegiate program—but why can’t the student-athletes do the same?

Unlike these coaches, student-athletes are essentially being punished for wanting to give themselves a new opportunity outside of their current collegiate situation. Once again, that’s not fair and not right.

I am not sure what the ramifications should be for coaches leaving because that is for the NCAA to decide. I just hope they keep in mind these student-athletes when doing so instead of treating college football as a big business.

Do you think coaches should be punished for leaving programs before their contract is up? Let Rex know by emailing him at

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