Coach, Volunteer Coach, and Aide Definitions
What’s the Difference? Why does it Matter?
The Department has issued guidance to the IHSAA and IGHSAU regarding volunteer coaches of interscholastic athletic programs in Iowa high schools. We repeat parts of that memorandum here:
- A coach is a person who holds a coaching authorization or coaching endorsement from the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners, and who diagnoses, prescribes, evaluates, assists, or directs student learning of an interscholastic athletic endeavor at a practice session or on the field of competition.
- A volunteer coach is a person who holds a coaching authorization or coaching endorsement from the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners, and who instructs, diagnoses, prescribes, evaluates, assists, or directs student learning of an interscholastic athletic endeavor at a practice session or on the field of competition, but does not receive compensation from a school or school district for his or her efforts.
- An aide is a person who performs managerial duties (such as timing students, retrieving equipment, recording statistical information, etc.), but does not instruct, diagnose, prescribe, evaluate, assist, or direct student learning of an interscholastic athletic endeavor at a practice session or on the field of competition. An aide does not hold a coaching authorization or coaching endorsement from the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners.
Whether a person is an aide or a coach is dependent solely on the duties assumed by that person, and not on the person’s title or pay, or whether the person is under contract to the school or school district. The duty about which there exists the most concerns is. supervision
An aide may supervise solely in the sense of passively observing students to ensure, for instance, that no injuries are sustained. An aide may not supervise with a critical eye as students run through drills for the purpose of evaluating their skills. After a coach has demonstrated a given technique, an aide may not observe for the purpose of ensuring that the students are following the coach’s instructions correctly. To do so crosses the line from acting as an aide to performing as a coach.
Camp and Clinic Rule
This time of year, school employees and the public alike have questions about coach/student contact. Below is the "camp and clinic rule" for coaches of high school interscholastic athletics.
This rule is in chapter 36, as are all rules governing eligibility of secondary students for competition in interscholastic athletics. The chapter 36 rules are adopted by the State Board of Education, and may be found on-line at www.legis.state.ia.us/Rules/Current/iac/281iac/28136/28136.pdf.
a. School personnel, whether employed or volunteers, of a member or associate member school shall not coach that school's student athletes during the school year in a sport for which the school personnel are currently under contract or are volunteers, outside the period from the official first day of practice through the finals of tournament play. Nor shall volunteer or compensated coaching personnel require students to participate in any activities outside the season of that coach's sport as a condition of participation in the coach's sport during its season.
b. A summer team or individual camp or clinic held at a member or associate member school facility shall not conflict with sports in season. Summertime coaching activities shall not conflict with sports in season.
c. A member or associate member school may open its gym or athletic facilities for the purpose of making recreational activities available for all students or the community. When students are participating in open gym in the hours immediately before or after school, school personnel shall be assigned to supervise. Open gyms are subject to the following restrictions:
(1) The supervisor shall not engage in any type of coaching nor participate during supervision.
(2) Attendance by students is voluntary.
(3) Volunteer or paid coaches may not directly or indirectly require the attendance of students or require the performance of activities by students prior to the legal practice period for that coach's sport.
(4) Open gym shall not be called or posted for specific sports.
(5) An open gym notice shall be posted on the general student information bulletin board and shall be signed or initialed by a school administrator other than the coach supervising the open gym.
d. Penalty. A school whose volunteer or compensated coaching personnel violate this rule is ineligible to participate in a governing organization-sponsored event in that sport for one year with the violator(s) coaching.
The basics of the rule are as follows:
1. During the summer (school not in session):
Contact between coaches and students is permitted at any time with two restrictions:
(1) An out-of-season coach may not have contact with a student who is
participating in softball or baseball if the contact results in the student missing a
softball or baseball practice or game;
(2) A coach may not require students to participate in any activity during the
summertime. Participation will not be considered voluntary in the following examples:
a. Attendance is taken at the activity (for example, weightlifting);
b. Participation is a condition of lettering, making the varsity team, etc.
c. Participation is otherwise rewarded by means such as having one's name
printed on the back of one's jersey.
A coach may conduct his/her own camp or clinic, but the following restrictions apply:
(1) If the coach uses the facilities of his/her employer, the school MUST charge actual costs to the coach, and the charge must be in accordance with local board policies for school facility rental.
(2) Attendance/admission costs paid by the attendees must be paid to the coach, NOT to the school. The camp or clinic is NOT a school-sponsored activity!
School transportation may be used for summertime activities as long as the transportation is properly leased and the school does not absorb any of the actual costs of the transportation.
School uniforms and equipment may not be used for non-school activities. A former school jersey purchased by a student may be worn.
2. During the school year:
High school coaches (grades 9 - 12) may not have any contact with high school students outside the season. High school coaches may have contact with students in grades 7 - 8 at any time and middle school coaches may have contact with high school students.
If a high school coach is present in a facility in which his/her students are participating out-of-season (camps, non-school team practice, Sunday or nighttime open gyms, etc.), the coach violates the contact rule regardless of whether the coach is directly working with his/her students in this setting. Nothing prevents a coach from being a spectator at a regularly scheduled competition which is open to the general public.
Coaches may supervise, but not instruct or participate at open gyms. By definition, open gyms occur immediately before or after school. A coach's presence at an "open gym" held at any other time, such as weekends, holidays, after the "supperhour" on a school night, etc., during the school year constitutes a contact violation.
Transportation of students to camps, non-school competitions, etc. by a coach is considered contact and is not permitted. School uniforms and equipment may not be used for non-school activities. A former school jersey purchased by a student may be worn.