Things Are As Bad As They Seem For Athletic Directors

SIDELINES

Low-pay, High-stress Job Isn't Attractive

April 12, 1992|By Pat O'Malley

Coaches like to say that things are never as bad as they seem nor asgood as they appear, and that pretty much applies to most of what happens in sports.

Everything that is with the exception of being anAnne Arundel County high school athletic director. Things are as badas they seem.

That's the reason we lost another quality person as a county athletic director this week in Broadneck's Kevin McMullen. McMullen, who succeeded his older brother, Tim, has announced his resignation effective the end of this school year after just one year on the thanklessjob.

As was the case with Tim, who somehow put up with the tedious position from the school's opening in 1983 through last year, Kevingot fed up with trying to perform a full-time job on a part-time schedule while making less than minimum wage to do it.

County athletic directors get only one planning period per day to perform what is atall order. It's got to be for the love of the kids and the sports they play that anyone in his right mind would consider taking the job.

Starting salary for county athletic director is under $3,000 for the school year and the top scale (after seven years) is less than $4,500.

"It's 50 minutes of madness," said Tim McMullen, referring to the free period to run a boys and girls athletic program.

Just consider a day that it rains forcing postponements: an A.D. has to alert the officials, opposing teams -- baseball, softball, boys and girls lacrosse, boys and girls track, tennis -- administrators, bus drivers, concession people, the media, county police, band directors, etc.

Arundel High athletic director Bernie Walter timed it a few timesand figures it takes about 54 minutes to make all the necessary phone calls. That's the full period.

So, now what about the problems from the day before that have to be handled and the new business of the day? And, oh yeah, you've got four classes to teach as Kevin McMullen does and someone pulls you out of class because of an athletic-related problem.

The students in your class couldn't care less about athletics. So, who suffers when you are responsible for the athletic department and have to tend to it at the expense of your classroom students?

It all goes with the territory and the question is, is it worth it?

"No way, except for the kids, you want to do for them and see them have a smooth-running program," said Tim McMullen, who said he is not interested in his old job and is perfectly content teaching social studies and coaching JV baseball.

"The county has got torealize what this job is doing to people. Kevin and I are fully aware of the stress involved in the job and that's why we got out. I don't know what the county is waiting for.

"Bernie Walter and Jim Dillon (Old Mill) have had heart attacks, as did Al Laramore (former Annapolis A.D. and football coach who died in 1989) who, unfortunately, is no longer with us."

McMullen also pointed to other former athletic directors who suffered health problems, such as the retired Joe Papetti of South River and the late Jerry Mears of Meade and Dick Hart of Andover.

Athletic directors have a never-ending job from one summer to the next, and that is one of the main items that bothers Kevin McMullen. He pointed out how the county has taken away the five per-diem days during the summer that the athletic directors desperately need to prepare for the upcoming school year.

Fall practice beginsAug. 15 and a lot has to be done before the athletes step out on thefields.

Some 250 to 275 varsity athletic events, depending on thesize of the school, have to be scheduled during the year, not to mention nearly 200 JV games and approximately 100 varsity/JV scrimmages.

Of course, you need coaches to run your teams, and athletic directors have to hire and fire, review seasons and make sure the playing fields and gyms are maintained. Time has to be taken to talk to county rec and parks officials about the use of facilities.

They can't forget to set up physicals for all the athletes who participate and keep records on each student plus his parental permission form to playhigh school sports. Those are just a couple of the records and reports to worry about, along with items dealing with things from eligibility to ticket receipts.

We're talking about employees who often have to show up a little earlier in the morning than other faculty members in order to do the job right. They use their full planning periodto get a few things taken care of with no help -- the county took away their paid assistants this year -- and they stay after school at least a couple of hours to see that the games get off smoothly.

Butthe day doesn't end there.

There are dozens of meetings to attendin the evenings from the local level to the state. Meetings with fellow AD's, booster clubs, coaches, administrators, state sports officials and even community groups are all part of the job.

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