David Hines has a long résumé: a teacher, a coach, an administrator, a tournament official, a dad. He has seen high school sports from every angle in the last 36 years.
Now, after nearly six months away, he is back with the Arizona Interscholastic Association as chief assistant to Executive Director Harold Slemmer.
He sat down with azcentral sports for a Q&A, covering a wide-range of topics, from classifying schools in sports, to the transfer rule to pay for coaches.
What motivated you to you take on this job as assistant executive director after going into semi-retirement?
“The last five or six months, I worked with the school superintendents and district ADs around the state. I was going to do the same type of work. It was intriguing to me. I like communicating with schools around the state, the ADs at different levels.”
What excites you most about this job?
“The most fun to me is, ‘What are the concerns? What are the things they’d like to see differently? What are the things that are good?’ It’s understanding there are different needs in different conferences.”
Do you see yourself succeeding Slemmer, when he retires in another year, as executive director?
“Honestly, I never had intent to be in this position. It was not something I was trying to get to. I enjoy working with the schools. I’ve been at it a long time. It gets physically demanding at the tournaments. I worked with good people. But also at my age now, three or four consecutive 18-hour days, it takes a toll. I was looking at that as I continued. I’d like to continue working another eight to 10 years. Can I do more with the bylaws with the schools and less of the physical work I’ve done for 36 years?”
What is your biggest goal as assistant director?
“I’m a liaison between the AIA and the schools, the membership. I work with the bylaws. I’m an interpreter. I think our biggest goal is that our members are well-informed. We have huge turnovers, something like 35 different athletic directors a year. … It’s a challenge to get the ADs to put in the time with the grind that they have. With that, ‘How can we educate them so that we’re on the same page?’ A disconnect creates the problems. If we can eliminate that disconnect, it will be better.”
In April, AL.com reported that three Alabama high school football coaches were making an annual salary of $120,000 with none of them teaching an academics course. With football becoming nearly a 365-days-a-year job for high school coaches, do you feel coaches in Arizona need to be better compensated?
“I don’t know how they do it, if it comes from fundraisers, outside entities, boosters. In Arizona, coaches are paid through the district. Each district can determine their salary schedule. Is there some differences between districts? Maybe. I don’t think very much. We’re on a shortage of money as it is. We’re trying to keep athletics. Districts are losing more and more money. At some point, where do you draw the line? We’re here for the education.”
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“If they do a different system, that’s tough. That becomes more of a collegiate model. And if you’re not doing well, you’re out. In high school, you want to be competitive. But we’re here to develop kids. You need to enjoy your time in high school. It becomes a different focus, a little more like a second job.”
Right now, student-athletes have to establish a change in domicile into the sending school’s district and have the schools sign off on it to be athletically eligible right away. What changes, if any, need to be made with the transfer rule?
“There are differences between the big metropolitan areas and the rural areas. We have schools three to five miles apart. Up on the reservation, there is nothing close. You could go a couple of hundred miles to compete with someone. It’s so different. But I do think there are some different models out there to allow kids to compete. If they don’t change domiciles, there needs to be some consequences probably. What those are, I don’t know yet. Whatever the membership would like to look at, everyone needs to say, ‘This will work for us.’ … There has to be some consistency. Maybe we look at some modification. We’re just not there yet. As a state, we’re in different spots. There is a mind-set of, ‘If it doesn’t affect me, I don’t want to be involved with it.’ That’s one of the challenges of the AIA. There are different-size schools, different areas. Not everything we do can be, ‘One size fits all.’”
In September, the AIA Legislative Council could bring forward a proposal to reclassify all of the schools in each sport again starting next school year. This school year, a new formula was used with various criteria to place schools. And schools able to appeal up or down in each sport. It created an imbalance with, for example, only 17 football teams in Division I and 57 teams in Division III. What is the vibe on that?
“That’s been the concern. OK, we’ve allowed people to appeal. But now we’ve got this section or division that is just humongous. People would prefer to be pretty consistent from conference to conference.”
Do you think the formula to place schools in sports needs more modification?
“I think the membership in the last four months has been in favor of going back to conferences and regions, which would move that around a little bit. If that bylaw is brought forward in September, it could be a little more like we used to do, based on enrollment. If there is a variation of that before we get to our final conferences, the conferences need to say, ‘That’s a good thing,’ and we all need to agree to do it that way.”
What does the membership most want?
“That the membership is being heard, let the membership bring things forward. We used to really do that. They want to look at change. Over time, they brought less forward and there was more direction from the executive board. Let the governing board do what they do best. They’re responsible for the executive director, for the fiscal responsibility of the association, whether it’s bylaws or how they operate during the season.”
Have you been swamped with people reporting possible violations?
“Not yet. I think our biggest push is, ‘Let’s communicate so we’re on the same page.’ If there is a violation, our schools have done a good job reporting it. We try to reach out to the school, ‘You might want to check into this. Is there anything to this?’ “
There have been long, drawn-out investigations in the past that have led to litigation.
“Litigation costs money for everybody. We would prefer not to go through that. My whole job is to work with the schools and to work under the direction of Harold. Dr. Slemmer has been here a long time. I’d like to be a help to the schools.”
How important is it to show a compassionate side to the AIA?
“It’s a people business. We have to have give and take. We’re not all going to be able to get everything we want. There are so many different environments. If we can create some things we can all agree to, then great. There are differences between small and big schools. We need to respect what they’re dealing with. Everybody has got an opinion. If you’re not respecting their situation, you need to walk in their shoes, see it is a lot more difficult. You have to be open-minded. When it’s time to make decision, you do it.”
Arizona high school state champions: 2014-15