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Learning from the College Sports Coaching Carousel

SnagAJob is headquartered in what’s become the nation’s temporary college hoops hotbed: Richmond, Va.

If you intently follow March Madness wearing face paint, own a TV or investigated why your worker productivity decreased 20 percent the past few weeks, then you might have seen that Virginia Commonwealth University made a storied underdog run to the basketball tourney’s Final Four. Plus its suburban neighbor, the University of Richmond, shared the limelight for a week as both schools made a run to the Sweet 16. (SnagAJob has fans of both schools.)

For that week, sports talk radio hosts and national pundits alike predicted how both program’s young, successful coaches – UR’s Chris Mooney and VCU’s Shaka Smart – would be poached by larger schools in big-time conferences. The college coaching ladder works like other jobs: you strike when the iron is hot, make your move and pray that you won’t have to play the school you abandoned anytime soon.

While Smart is still playing, Mooney is not. But rather than jump to the ACC giant Georgia Tech or mighty Missouri, Mooney decided to stay put at Richmond – a school of 3,000ish students that’s a bit better known for academics than athletics. He signed a 10-year contract, citing the love of his current job – its promise, stability and the great relationships he enjoys with his co-workers. Add Mooney to a list that includes Butler’s Brad Stevens and Gonzaga’s Mark Few, talented coaches who made winners out of middling college sports powers. They resisted the knee-jerk money grab and built believers the old fashioned way, from the ground up.

You can see where I’m going with this not-so-cleverly veiled metaphor – and there is another side to the story. While schools like Richmond may not have been able to pull a dump truck of gold bullion up to their coaches’ doorsteps, these coaches weren’t sticking around on blind faith. Often times, their compensation went beyond cash, and included improved facilities, increased salary for assistants and support staff, and new instruments for the pep band. In other words: all the stuff the coach has to sweat other than coaching. In essence, they were getting a better work-life balance.

So as the economy slowly and surely improves this year, the hourly labor market loosens up, and your workers are lured away by the promise of bigger paychecks, think about buying new instruments for the pep band – more comfortable uniforms, a more spacious break room and other benefits to let employees know that staying isn’t just the right decision; it can be an easy one.

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Mike Ward is the managing editor for Snagajob. When he's not writing and editing content to support America's hourly workers and employers, he reviews movies, roots for losing sports teams and hangs out with his family and friends in the River City.

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