By: Olivia Wile
Changes are being made within the athletic department at the University of Findlay. Starting this year, UF is eliminating graduate assistant coaches across every athletic program. This change is to better accommodate the student athletes according to Head Athletic Director Brandi Laurita.
“We had 35 graduate assistants in the department who were pretty limited on what they could do from our perspective and what they could do with interactions,” said Laurita. “To better serve our student athletes, we restructured that.”
There are still four GA’s left at the University, however. Two are working in sports information while the others work in strength and conditioning – areas Laurita feels service the entire athletic department. She says the department consolidated the other 31 positions into six, full-time coaches.
“Those six, full-time coaches gives us two, full-time people at least for each program,” said Laurita.
As for how the decision was reached, Laurita says it was a University-wide effort.
“We spent time as cabinet and with the president involved to say ‘how does this service not just the athletic department but the University,’” said Laurita. “We had to look at a lot of things, not just athletics.”
Those other things being how the University would continue to attract students into the master’s program without those graduate assistant positions available.
“It was really a University-wide decision,” explained Laurita, “How that was going to affect taking graduate assistants out of the masters programs, how was that going to affect academic affairs, looking at how that was going to affect budget, how it was going to affect office space on campus.”
Vice President of Business Affairs Tom Lause is among University personnel in support of the decision.
“There’s got to be a backup and the graduate assistants just couldn’t perform some of the responsibilities,” said Lause. “Having an assistant coach who has the authority, the responsibility, and the accountability to execute some of those responsibilities really does help serve the athletics better.”
Senior on the lacrosse team Brittany Stephens says she believes the changes will be positive for student athletes.
“Personally, I think it’s going to be a good change because we’ll have consistency throughout our years as athletes,” said Stephens. “I think it offers us a stronger connection with our coaching staff since it’s not changing every two years.”
Being part of a University team that has only ever had a graduate assistant coach, rather than a full-time assistant, Stephens believes these additional credentials will provide more value to her team.
“I think it’s also good because we’re able to work with someone who has experience coaching and who works well with the coach and the team because not every GA is able to work well with the coach or team we’ve seen that in the past,” said Stephens
As for the negatives surrounding the change, Stephens brings up a good point.
“But I also see the negative aspects of it,” said Stephens. “GA’s don’t get experience and they don’t get to learn about coaching, GA’s can also bring in a different mind set and a new set of skills or thoughts.”