Athletic Director

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The Athletic Director’s Dilemma

Jo
Ann Cochran is the Athletic Director at Southwest Coast University
(SCU), a small D-II liberal arts institution just south of Malibu, which
competes in the California Collegiate Athletic Association.

While
thumbing through the department’s anonymous comments, she learns of two
different relationships that involve student-athletes and
coaches. These ‘Anonymous Comment Boxes’ are posted in every sporting
facility where SCU plays its home games. One a month, Jo Anne takes time
to read through the comments of fans and visitors whose comments
usually follow a predictable pattern. However, these comments caught Jo
Anne totally off guard. Primarily because she thinks she has a good grip
on the culture and subculture of her department. Although she has never
been referred to as a micro-manager, Jo Anne prides herself in knowing
the nuts and bolts of every unit.

As
she read through the comments that she believe was written by a
student-athlete and a staff member, her blood began to boil. Several
emotions and thoughts were running through her head. Her mind traveled
back to the past Saturday where she stood in front of 53 parents on a
major recruiting weekend asking for their trust by sending their sons
and daughters to SCU. She pledged to continue to develop them as leaders
and to create citizens who will make an impact in the community at
large. Over eighty-five percent of the student-athletes who visited that
weekend committed to come to Southwest Coast University.

Most
of all, she feels hypocritical. How could coaches violate her trust,
stoop so low, and manipulate the young minds that have been entrusted to
their care? Realizing that these are merely accusations, she
understands she needs to address the issues cautiously but swiftly. Over
the next few days, Jo Anne lost sleep and had trouble focusing at work.

She
calls in Sue James, the Compliance Officer and confidante. During the
conversation Sue responds, “Half the department has been talking about
it for a couple of weeks. They have been …”

Jo Anne cut her off. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I thought you knew,” Sue shot back.

During
the conversation, Jo Anne learns that one relationship (heterosexual)
is between a 21 year-old senior student-athlete and a 25 year-old
assistant coach. The other relationship is between a recently divorced
43 year-old Head Coach and a 19 year-old student-athlete.

As
far as Jo Anne can gather from Sue and other sources, the relationships
have not been disruptive on the perspective teams. She has investigated
the matter. She later finds that one relationship is heterosexual and
one relationship is a homosexual. It is now time to act. What would you do as an athletic director to handle this situation.

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