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It’s not for the money

Coaches and athletic directors get paid for their time, but not much

Posted: July 29, 2009 10:44 p.m.
Updated: July 30, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
One of the highest-paid and most successful coaches in the Santa Clarita Valley works for slightly more than a couple of bucks an hour.

Mike Herrington doesn’t get paid more than other coaches because of the amount of success he has attained in 20 years as Hart High’s head football coach. He gets paid slightly more because of the fact that he has coached for that long of a time and also because he doubles as Hart High School’s co-athletic director.

“It’s definitely not for the money,” Herrington says on why he coaches.

Do people actually realize how much coaches are paid for the amount of time they put in?

To the coaches, it really doesn’t seem to matter.

But the fact is, they really don’t get much.

There are a couple of factors that go in to determining how much a coach or athletic director will receive as a stipend for their work.

In the last agreement between the William S. Hart Union High School District and the Hart District Teachers Association, which was a three-year contract that expired June 30, coaches and athletic directors received a percentage of $36,601.

That percentage varies based on the sport one would coach.

For example, a head football coach gets 12 percent of that $36,601 ($4,392.12) and a head soccer coach gets eight percent ($2,928.08). Those numbers are slightly affected, though, by how long someone has been a coach for a given program.

Herrington, conservatively speaking, gives at least 1,000 hours a year to the Hart High football program.

Football coaches are known to put in very long days throughout the school year because of how competitive the sport is in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Between film sessions, practices, games, preparation, dealing with parents and boosters and even giving interviews for stories like this one, being a high school coach is an extremely demanding job.

“The amount of hours are incredible, absolutely incredible,” says Valencia High athletic director Brian Stiman of the amount of time a coach puts in. Stiman was the head football coach at Valencia High before retiring from the position after the 2004 season. “You have to remember these coaches, especially head coaches at every level, they put in two full work days.”

Combined athletic directors, ones who take on the boys and girls programs like Stiman, make 18 percent of the $36,601.

ADs like Herrington, who is a co-director, get 12 percent.

But Herrington is more well-known for what he does as a coach.

That’s where you might say he earns most of his stipends.

His falls are filled with long days.

He goes into school at 7:15 a.m. He teaches three physical education classes. He has duties as the school’s athletic director. On Fridays he does last-minute preparations for a football game that begins at 7 p.m. Sometimes those games are on the road. Games last until nearly 10 p.m. He does interviews, clears the locker room, then leaves.

He’s back at Hart at 7:30 a.m. the next morning for the Saturday meeting.

But it’s not just football where coaches show a greater level of dedication.

Baseball coaches are out mowing the lawns of their fields. Cross country coaches are running their kids in the summer twice a day. And basketball coaches are out scouting months before the season starts.

Some of these coaches have to balance this with teaching, grading papers and preparing for class.

And yet there are some coaches who don’t even receive a dime.

That’s because the district sets a limit to the amount of coaches it can pay.

Golf, swimming, track and field, tennis and cross country receive stipends for two coaches. Baseball, basketball, soccer, softball and volleyball get three.

Football receives seven stipends.

Take cross country for example as a burgeoning sport in the Santa Clarita Valley where the stipends are spread very thin.

There are three levels — frosh/soph, junior varsity and varsity and only two stipends are going out.

In baseball, three stipends don’t cover coaching staffs that reach into the double digits in some cases.

At West Ranch, the stipends are given out to the head coaches of the freshman, JV and varsity teams. Casey Burrill, who is the varsity head coach, said fundraising has allowed the program to pay some of the other coaches.

He said those checks have ranged from $250 to $750.

“There shouldn’t be any bleeding hearts for us, though,” Burrill said. “I don’t have anything to complain about.”

Yet sometimes travel and food are two things coaches are paying for out of their own pockets.

Again, though, coaches won’t complain.

One coach, who declined to comment for this story said with California’s budget situation, he was glad to get paid what he gets.

Sue Guthrie, the chief financial officer of the Hart District, said 2007-08 athletic stipends totaled $1,150,000.

The district has been forced to make cuts of $16 million over the 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years.

She said a cut to the stipends has been discussed.

“(The school board) really doesn’t want to cut instructional or co-curricular programs, but we’re running out of places to cut,” she said.

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