School districts continue to struggle with a coaching shortage. It's a nationwide issue that goes back decades, but it's getting worse, according to the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA).
It's the law of supply and demand at work.In the past, mostly teachers have been responsible for coaching duties, but as Arizona continues to grapple with a severe teacher shortage, it's depleting the coaching pool.
The AIA says statewide only half of coaches are teachers.
"It used to be 80 to 90 percent were teachers and now that's dropped dramatically," said Herman House, who is the AIA Board President and Tucson Unified's Athletic Director.
He said he's working hard to fill the more than 50 open coaching positions in TUSD, however, hiring more teachers won't necessarily fix the problem. "Now we have quite a few teachers who are not willing to coach, they will teach, but not coach," said House.
He explained the demand on the coaches time to ensure winning seasons is even greater than years past. "If a team or program isn't working year round -- they feel like they're left behind."
House said the pressure to add hours comes mainly from parents, not districts or schools. "The pressure from parents on the need to get their child a scholarship. The need to get their child in a very successful program," he said.
In TUSD, the added hours do not mean extra pay. Coaches receive a one-time stipend -- ranging from 1000 to 5000 dollars -- depending on the sport. So to help fill coaching vacancies, House said school districts, like TUSD, are experimenting with creating alternative positions, "like pitching coaches or quarterback coach. Someone who is able to come in an work as a specialist," he said.
House says the answer to the coaching shortage is complex. It's a dilemma that districts have faced for decades making the future unclear.
We are continuing to look into the coaching shortage and its impact.