Jack P. Carroll ‘24
The faculty met on Tuesday, Feb. 8 to discuss the Athletic Advisory Committee’s (AAC) report regarding the change in employment status of new head coaches from faculty to staff.
According to a copy of the report obtained by the Tripod, the AAC met with Athletic Director Drew Galbraith on Dec. 6 for a monthly meeting during which he announced the change in employment status of new head coaches from faculty to staff. The decision was reportedly made without any input from current head coaches, and there were two stated reasons for change: (1) greater ease in the evaluation of head coaches and (2) alignment of Trinity head-coach employment status with other schools in the NESCAC. The current members of the AAC include Professor of Physics and Environmental Science Christoph Geiss, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science and Biology Amber Pitt, and Associate Professor of Biology Lisa Foster.
“The AAC does not find these reasons compelling and opposes the change as it is detrimental not only to our colleagues in athletics, but the college as a whole,” the report states. The report claims that removing the faculty title devalues athletics as a part of teaching and the coaches’ role in supporting faculty members in the education of students. In addition, the report notes that the change in employment status contradicts curricular efforts (wellness requirement) which emphasize coaches’ role in the curriculum. Other consequences of the change include the weakening of coaches’ job security, a reduction of employment benefits for head coaches, and a great potential to weaken the candidate pool for coaching positions as most other NESCAC schools grant faculty status to head coaches.
“While the academic affairs committee may see reasons for that change we don’t agree with them and we told you so in the document that accompanied our report. We’re not a division one school and we really think that coaches serve an important resource,” said Geiss while introducing the report to the faculty. In an interview with the Tripod, Geiss noted the coaches teach first-year seminars and wellness courses. He also indicated that new coach hires–who are not recognized as faculty members–could be fired within two weeks notice. “I think the College has to figure out what it wants the coaches role to be and I think [sic] should not be a decision made by the athletic director because the athletic director is justifiably biased there.”
Galbraith did not respond to the Tripod’s request for comment.
Responding to the AAC’s report, Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs Sonia Cardenas told faculty that it was not the appropriate time to discuss the change in employment status of new head coaches. She indicated that further dialogue is needed and the decision is an evolving process. One faculty member who was at the meeting told Cardenas that she wished Galbraith and the cabinet had discussed the employment status change sooner.
Head Women’s Squash Coach and Professor of Physical Education Wendy Bartlett told the Tripod that she was surprised by the change when she found out in January at a meeting with other head coaches. “I didn’t know it was coming. In one of our staff meetings our Athletic Director Drew Galbraith announced that going forward on all new coaching hires that they would be hired not as faculty…So it was a surprise and many coaches asked questions about it,” said Bartlett. She also indicated that coaches have been recognized as faculty members throughout her 38 years at the College. “It’s the recognition that you’re a faculty member. We get to go to faculty meetings. We’re on the faculty pay scale so we’re paid as faculty members. And it’s prestigious to be a faculty member,” said Bartlett while discussing the benefits of the faculty title. Bartlett noted that “Drew has been a terrific athletic director, especially during the past two years with COVID.”
The AAC expressed opposition to the employment status change in another report obtained by the Tripod: “The ACC opposes this change as it sees no benefit to the College. The ACC stated its position to the President. We discussed the topic with Sonia Cardenas and Susan Masino, realize the need for more information and conversation, and consider the issue an evolving process.”
The report also contains academic data on Trinity’s student athletes. The Fall 2020 and Fall 2021 GPAs among the College’s approximate 650 student athletes was 3.44 and 3.46 respectively. 226 athletes achieved NESCAC All-Academic Honors (3.5 GPA or higher) in 2020-2021. 249 athletes received Faculty Honors in Fall 2020 and 200 athletes received Faculty Honors in Spring 2021. Furthermore, 7 athletes were named Dean’s Scholars from the Class of 2024 and four were named President’s Fellows.