COLUMN: District AD is an idea whose time has come

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By John Herndon

Occasionally, you run across an idea that is presented in error, but is a good one anyway.

Such is the recent interest in a district-wide athletic director for Anderson County schools.

As I reported last week, Anderson County High School softball coach Brian Glass is apparently being forced to give up his coaching duties under the “anti-nepotism” section of the Kentucky Education Reform Act.

With Chris Glass being named interim principal at the high school, it created a situation of a man supervising his brother, which is in direct conflict with KERA.

Some of his supporters presented the idea of the district-wide athletic director as an avenue to alleviate the possible nepotism issues. The argument was to make the coaching positions accountable to the athletic director, instead of the principal, and everything is solved.

It sounds good. The problem is putting personnel matters under anyone other than a school principal just does not hold up under legal scrutiny.

But that does not mean the idea of one person overseeing the school district's athletic programs and activities is a bad one. Far from it.

In fact, many school districts around the state have already put a district athletic director in place. Some systems refer to the person as the “activities director.” In neighboring Shelby County, one person oversees a high school and the middle school that feeds it, such as Shelby County and East Middle.

It is one of the best ideas to come along in a long time. Here's why.

First, things are just changing in scholastic sports and they are changing rapidly.

I have been writing about high school sports since 1985 and watching them a lot longer than that. I would never have imagined the enormous changes we have seen in recent years.

When I enrolled at Anderson County High School in the fall of 1972, I believe the school offered five sports – football, basketball, baseball, golf and tennis. Boys could play all of the sports, but girls were limited to tennis or club basketball.

Now? The school offers 12 sports and 19 teams, or every one the Kentukcy High School Athletic Association sponsors.  There are also several “sports activities,” such as archery and cheer, that the KHSAA sponsors. The athletic department at the high school also has other sports, such as dance, that are not sanctioned by the KHSAA but are still under the auspices of the departments.

The KHSAA has made it clear that it is trying to provide more and more opportunities for kids to participate, which means more and more sports for schools to administer.

That brings up the second big reason for one person overseeing all of the district's athletics.

Over the last few months, the Kentucky Department of Education also instructed the KHSAA to begin oversight of middle school sports. While the scope of this move is still not quite known, it is a major step in the right direction.

For years middle schools have basically been on their own. Some sports had no defined seasons and there were really no statewide regulations governing scheduling and safety concerns. Thankfully, many individual schools and districts implemented their own regulations, but across the state, it was largely hit and miss.

With the KHSAA in the early stages of bringing middle school athletics under its umbrella, it makes sense to have one person from the district in charge.

Finally, schools in a district should work together and best utilize taxpayer dollars. Facilities can be an issue in sports like football, baseball and track.

It would be great for every school to have complete athletic facilities, but let's get real. That costs money. Lots of money. And money that most districts don't have to afford the luxury.

There are plenty of reasons a district athletic director is a great idea and it's time Anderson County comes on board.


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