Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

The cost of coaching

Avery Thorpe

Club-level sports allow students to find their community on campus and serve as a physical outlet, competitive arena and social circle. Similar to competitive sports, club sports involve regular practices, workouts, travel and games organized by a certified coach. These coaches are responsible for creating a team that works well together by looking out for players’ individual needs and teaching the sport in a way that resonates with team members. 

Despite the certification and hard work that club coaches invest in their teams, UT does not currently guarantee them compensation. Club sports coaches deserve to receive compensation since they dedicatedly lead teams in a part-time position.  

Kris Karsten, UT women’s rugby coach, runs the team full-time as a volunteer because of the fulfillment it brings him. Karsten spends hours each week coaching and supporting players despite not being paid.

“Standard practice is four hours a week,” Karsten said. “Planning time during the week typically involves about at least an hour per practice plan. There’ll be another two hours, and I will probably have at least another hour, maybe an hour and a half to kind of miscellaneous tasks.”

UT RecSports gives a small percentage of its own funding to club sports, leaving teams in charge of allocating their budget. Any additional funds come from fundraising efforts. 

“Just like any student org, they are responsible for a lot of their financials,” said Bridget Jones, senior assistant director for sports clubs at UT RecSports. “We do have a small allocation that we give all the clubs that makes up about 15% of their budget, and they do fundraising for the rest of their budget.” 

Since every club varies in popularity and needs, some clubs can afford to pay their coaches if they choose to, while others cannot.  

“Certain clubs don’t have a lot of money because they’re just a more expensive sport, or maybe they travel a lot,” Jones said. “Those costs are really high.” 

This forces some coaches to serve exclusively as volunteers despite obtaining a coaching certification — something that is required by the University to fill the position. 

According to Karsten, Under the current system of pay, larger and more popular sports, like soccer and lacrosse, can pay their coaches a decent wage while less popular sports, like rugby, rely on volunteer coaches to work the same hours. 

Although giving each club control over their budget allocation so they can provide resources as needed is unique, it can discourage the presence of a full-time coach, as volunteers like Karsten can be hard to come by. 

“Performance is going to suffer (without a coach),” Karsten said. “When you spend this much time around the same people, there are going to be issues. There’s going to be drama if you don’t have somebody that can be an objective party that can at least be consulted.” 

Guaranteeing compensation for coaches could incentivize coaching staff to stay with the team and show appreciation for the communities RecSports is working to build and support. UT club sports are a vital aspect of on-campus athletics, and coaches are an essential component.   

Meltzer is a writing and rhetoric freshman from San Antonio, Texas.

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