There are 36,000 coaches in Texas public schools, but 6,000 are leaving the profession each year, according to the Texas High School Coaches Association.
A growing shortage of coaches has prompted the coaches association to launch a mentoring program that will begin in March 2020 that THSCA officials hope will keep more coaches coaching instead of looking to start new careers in other professions.
“If we don’t change this trend, it could become a disaster for our profession in the end,” said Glen West, second-year assistant executive director of the THSCA and a 34-year former football coach.
West cited multiple reasons for the shortage, starting with the strong economy Texas has enjoyed for nearly the last decade.
“When the economy is good, it’s not good for coaching and teaching,” West said. “The people who do it for a long time love it, but they know they’re not going to make a ton of money. People can make a lot more money in other professions.”
Among the growing professions in Texas are health care, technology and energy, including the volatile oil business, which has been up, down and back up again within the last eight years.
Plus, Texas has gained more population than any other state since 2017. No less than six Texas cities or metropolitan areas — from Dallas-Fort Worth to Midland-Odessa — are listed among the fastest-growing cities in the United States. These factors suggest the Texas economy will remain solid for the foreseeable future.
Even though coaching salaries are higher now than ever, they haven’t caught up to a lot of other professions.
The alternative problem
Besides the economy, the biggest factor contributing to the coaching shortage is the Alternative Certification Program. The ACP allows college graduates who did not major in education and have no training in education to obtain a probationary teaching certificate and be hired as coaches and teachers. Those who choose this career path have one to two years to complete a program to earn a standard teaching certificate.
“It started out as a way for people in the business world to get into teaching back when the economy wasn’t as good,” West said. “It became a shortcut to getting a teaching certificate.”