All teams should offer coaching evaluations

Doug Close, Sports Editor

Toward the end of each semester, Chapman students have the opportunity to complete anonymous evaluations of their professors.

Evaluations are a qualitative way for administrators to get an honest view inside what is actually happening in a professor’s classroom. Students’ responses can then help administrators determine if any pressing adjustments need to be made to the course. They can also help high-performing professors get the deserved recognition of a job well done if their evaluations reveal positive insight from students’ perspectives.

That being said, I’m not sure why administrators and the athletic department don’t offer similar evaluation opportunities for athletes from every single varsity team to give anonymous feedback on their coaches.

While some sports like track and field, cross-country  and football offer their athletes the chance to anonymously evaluate the coaches, other sports at Chapman – like men’s soccer and men’s water polo – are not afforded the same opportunity.

This would be like if only certain majors got to fill out professor evaluations at the end of a semester. That would never fly.

Teachers who aren’t even full-time employees are subject to evaluation at the end of each semester. To me, it doesn’t make sense why not all coaches – who are often full-time employees – don’t go through a similar process.

There are always going to be outliers in this process. One evaluation might be significantly more negative or positive than others in a group for a variety of reasons. And just like professors aren’t let go for one critical evaluation from a student, coaches shouldn’t worry about one annoyed player’s opinion being the factor that gets them fired or rehired.

Rather, evaluations are a way for leaders within an organization to look for trends or patterns in responses. If 80 percent of a team were to give glowing reviews of a coach following a positive season, then administrators could be reassured that the coach was doing a great job.

But on the flip side, if 80 percent of a team is giving overwhelmingly poor reviews of a coach following a mediocre or worse season, then that could be a sign that administrators should look into players’ concerns.

In this way, coaching evaluations could be a way to reward coaches who are fostering constructive and hardworking programs in ways that might only be seen through players’ evaluations.

And that’s the great thing about evaluations – they provide context. They aren’t the final ruling, and to stick with the courtroom analogies, they function more as testimonies. Just like no one knows more about what’s going on in a professor’s classroom other than the students in that classroom, no one at the NCAA Division III level knows more about a coach’s dynamic with the team than the players.

I’m not too sure where else first-person qualitative feedback would come from about coaches at Chapman. Right now, if an athlete on a team – one that did not offer coaching evaluations to its players – wanted to voice a concern about anything pertaining to the coach or team, they would have to go in and meet with a higher-up in the athletic department for an official meeting.

I can imagine very few scenarios in which a returning player would be willing to do that for fear of repercussions. For those of you who don’t play sports, perhaps an appropriate analogy would be students’ hesitation to talk to a department head about a current professor who they knew would also be their professor in a class next semester.

But thankfully, students are rarely put in that situation. Why? They can voice their thoughts totally anonymously at the end of the semester via professor evaluations. It is unfair that not all student-athletes have a similar resource to turn to.

If Chapman truly wants to champion all of its student-athletes, then it has to start making sure that all teams are given opportunities like evaluations to make their thoughts heard.

1 Comment

  • Coaching evaluations are provided to student athletes at the end of their season. They’re the same as the professor evaluations. Whether they are closely looked at by the athletics department is a different story.

Leave a Comment