Director of Soccer Operations (college)

Director of Soccer Operations Outline for Collegiate Soccer

BJ Pheasant – bpheasan@indiana.edu – available for consulting or job offer

The Director of Soccer Operations assists the Head Coach in the administration of all aspects of the sport program primarily gathered in five main areas, recruiting, scheduling, budgeting, media, and camps. Budget planning and scheduling are listed together as the two go hand-in-hand. The definition of scheduling is used in its most broad sense and covers all forms of travel, securing practice and facility times, community outreach, speaking engagements, meals and more. The budget must mesh with scheduling, especially for road trips, as team travel is usually the largest expense a team faces. Similarly, recruiting and media are inextricably tied together and are main duties. The camps operations relate to both budgeting/scheduling and recruiting/media since it is integral for recruiting and as a money maker, which retains assistant coaches enhancing stability in the program. The DSO position allows the coach to coach.

The position of Director of “Sport” Operations is a relatively young one outside the revenue sports in college athletics, although long established in other countries and in the professional ranks in the U.S. Those who hold the position are found primarily in the major, or power, conferences in the country. To be sure, each school in the land must take care of the travel, scheduling, recruiting, and budgeting tasks that exist everywhere. However, the schools in the power conferences are currently the only ones that to have a position dedicated solely to this purpose. At most schools, the assistant coaches and other office personnel divide the responsibilities. In football and basketball (men and women) the salary and benefits are often covered by the program’s athletic budget and supplemented by camp/clinic operations in a similar fashion to assistant coaches. In nonrevenue sports this may happen, but the salary is often paid through the school to access the full benefits package at the university with the agreement that some percentage of the salary (not benefits) be reimbursed to the school through outside revenue (usually camp or fundraising). The salary is still supplemented by camp/clinic operations along with assistant coaches.

Scheduling and Budgeting (~25% of duties)

Directors are responsible for arranging travel plans for their team, which will take up most of the time in this category and are integrally related to budgeting as much of the budget is travel. Scheduling duties in the off-season take 15% the time.

Prior to setting out on a road trip, a Director will develop a travel itinerary, including budget. Team travel responsibilities cover scheduling and confirming airplane reservations, hotels and rooming lists, charter busses or shuttles, practices, pre-game meals and restaurant options, per diem and any activities in which a team may participate. Upon completion of each trip, they handle all expense forms and reimbursements as mandated by our institution, including all university, conference, and NCAA team travel paperwork. For the occasional and special case of an overseas tour, there are the additional tasks of signing contracts and securing passports.

Summing up travel responsibilities by saying, Directors need to make sure there is transportation to a game or tournament, have transportation when arriving at the destination, have a place to sleep, feed the team, and return home. If all that goes right and make sure the budget is correct and make sure everyone is dressed properly, then the job is done.

Game-Day – For the most part on the day of a home game, the Directors double as event managers. They need to keep their head coach on schedule, compile the list of player ticket requests, manage the support staff, including those on the bench each game and ball girls and boys, and make sure equipment is handy. But before any games are played, they need to be scheduled and contracts need to be signed. Scheduling non-conference games is the primary challenge; league offices usually designate conference schedules.

During the season Directors are often responsible for scheduling practice times for visiting teams that visit their institution. Similarly, they schedule practice times for their own institution when they take road trips. While this is usually handled with a letter to each school requesting times and then following up as the trip approaches. Basically, a Director must communicate their team’s practice needs, which may include extra goals, field time or video needs. They must stay in contact with appropriate athletic department personnel, sometimes their counterpart at the school to which they will travel.

Sometimes schools host special events, such as an annual tournament. Often times the Director will coordinate, organize, and direct the event.

Officials may be scheduled through the Director or through the athletic office or conference.

Strength and Conditioning – Usually not in the purview of the Director

Maintaining Equipment and Supplies – Some monitor equipment needs and related supplies. They serve as a liaison with the school’s equipment personnel regarding practice and game gear and other needs or orders, primarily with the school’s apparel supplier. Additionally, accurate inventory of all equipment must be maintained. Often the team manager(s) track inventory, but may be trained by the Director.

Recruiting and Media (~35% of duties)

These two categories need to be specialized in as the more Media attention (name recognition) a school or program receives the more doors that are opened for recruiting.

On-Campus Recruiting – The job entails on-campus recruiting while in season, which may take 15% of the time. During the off-season the Director does less with on-campus recruiting and more with the current student-athletes.

The real change in the Director of Soccer Operations position that I provide comes from this category in the form additional recruiting reach that can be provided by a Director. The SID already prepares basic information and there is no need to take over their job, just enhance it and extend the depth of its contact in the soccer community. This expands the name recognition of the school and program, which translates into greater camp attendance; a recruiting advantage.

To hold coaches’ attention instruct them how to improve their feeder system and high school program. My project on the Capitalization Rates of Youth Players in the US allows high school coaches to know where to recruit from in their elementary schools. This project is potentially a PhD dissertation at IU. In this case I have developed a set of statistics that can tell high school coaches how big their feeder system could be and how many players they could have at the high school level.

Operating clinics on the organization and management side of a high school program is not something I have ever seen or heard about other than my own. Coaching clinics are done by colleges about coaching the sport, but not information about being a program leader. US Youth Soccer focuses on clubs not on high schools. There is literally no one else doing this work. Developing the university into a high school program repository with clinics around the state will gain a tremendous following. This will help fill the camps and many recruits are those that attended camp. This could also be done at the club level as well because the USYS State Associations mostly cover coaching issues and not the club organizations issues. My stats can tell clubs how many players are available on a county by county basis.

This paragraph outlines some traditional duties of a Director followed by paragraphs that contain samples of additional ideas that I have developed and researched. The Directors at most of the schools also have responsibilities working with fan clubs, community service, miscellaneous team requests, including speaking engagements, public and media relations and marketing. For the community, Directors serve as a liaison for requests for team’s time at clinics or autograph sessions. Many of them will coordinate gatherings or communication with the Soccer fan club, including events, perhaps a general newsletter, and web site maintenance.

Girl’s basketball teams when they win a sectional title in Indiana receive a fax from Purdue University Women’s Basketball congratulating them on their sectional championship. This is the only instance where I have heard of this happening. A coach reported that the girl’s where impressed and excited that a college program noticed them, even though they know it was not strictly personal and that all sectional winners in Indiana received an equivalent fax.

Making the soccer games available for download via bit torrent[1] would be another way to distinguish the soccer program from the pack because most players are not able to watch college soccer on TV except for one weekend a year during the final four. Bit torrent is one of the most popular internet applications and some media companies are using it to distribute product. Small schools are experimenting with other forms of internet distribution and their experiments need to be watched closely. For example, the Horizon League, a conference of smaller D1 schools, has their own network composed of games they stream over the internet. (http://www.horizonleaguenetwork.tv/) Streaming games requires a large amount of computer network bandwidth to push the signal out and for the consumer to have high speed internet to be able to watch the action smoothly. Bit torrent actually allows the game to be on the consumers’ computer so it will play without lag.

Articles and Newsletters are effective, but it is difficult to accomplish a comprehensive pattern of coverage. It may not be necessary to be comprehensive and instead focus on current athletes to create a family feel. Submit articles to each athlete’s school paper, club newsletter, and hometown paper. This can be done with prewritten game or program related articles with paragraphs inserted to personalize the information. High school coaches indicated that they ‘definitely’ knew that their high school would be willing to publish articles on their ‘former’ athletes – many not all high school papers are searching for content. I recommend sending out an article after each game (or weekend) to each of the three contact categories listed in the detailed plan and extend that for two years after they graduate with a generic article. Gradually this will build a following and name recognition starting from the areas that the team is currently strongest as determined by success in recruiting. The articles should be archived to increase internet content, as well as, potentially being used in the coaches’ newsletter.

In addition to the articles there should be a monthly newsletter (single sheet trifold) about the soccer program. This newsletter idea comes from a 30 year high school coach who said that he has consistently received a newsletter from only one college over the years in baseball and that they are the only college he has received a newsletter from on a consistent basis. This appears to be a great area to exploit similarly to sending faxes to sectional winners in that most colleges aren’t doing it. The newsletter should be simple. A one page tri-fold is enough. It needs four to five articles and one drill. Four of the articles will be on the same subject each time. One on the team – an update, one on the school itself – an update, one on a subject important in college soccer at that time, and one drill or activity that the coach thinks is helpful. If there is remaining space it can be filled in with any article the coach chooses. The newsletter should be sent to club coaches and high school coaches starting with the places successfully recruited from in the past and expand. It is not an expensive idea so providing a place for coaches to recommend friends to receive the newsletter is necessary, both in the newsletter and on the website. The newsletter articles should be archived on the website to increase content. And much of the newsletter content comes from the SID work already performed.

Camps (~20% of duties)

The additional length of time that coaches are available provides stability to the program, which is vital to sustained success. Based on successful application of the supplemental SID type duties and the high school/club building clearinghouse idea in previous section the program should have a relationship with many of the clubs and high schools in the state. This allows for a push to enroll more youth in camps. Having a strong camp and clinic program it allows for significant enhancement to the assistant coach salaries. At many schools of smaller size this is the difference between retaining a full time assistant on a regular basis or a part timer (even a volunteer). For a larger school this monetary incentive makes it more likely that an assistant will need to think hard about taking a head coaching job at a smaller school because of the decline in compensation.

Camp and clinic duties vary from school to school. Some Directors serve as camp registrar and facility coordinator. They also plan registration and awards ceremonies, coordinate the camp store, brochure production, advertising, promotion, mailings, camp equipment, and camper database files.

Clinics can be scheduled at any time with all-star or invitational clinics for players often being scheduled during winter break or spring break as short residential camps. These would last anywhere from a two and a half day weekend to a four and a half day time period approaching a regular camp in length. Afternoon clinics might be scheduled as smaller events for the local area (non-residential)

Coaching clinics are usually scheduled during the break times as well. However, they can be a two and a half day weekend at most any time. Usually, coaches would get their own lodging with a deal set up by the university at a local hotel.

Summer camps are divided into three categories with the residential (two categories) individual camp and the team camp followed by the local park & rec camp (non residential). There can also be a distinction made between residential and nonresidential versions. Usually two weeks of residential individual camps are scheduled. Ambitious programs will go for four weeks with two at the beginning of the summer and two near the end. Residential team camp would usually be at the tail end of the summer camp season and often includes the coach of the high school team with some sort of round robin playing format mixed with coaching sessions. Most team camps are high school based, but this does not always need to be the case and can allow for a significant expansion of the team camp category to have club teams in various age groups.

Film exchange/Academic monitoring/Other duties (~20% of duties)

Film Exchange and Editing – Though they may not break down or analyze film, they may prepare or copy tapes and participate in film exchange according to NCAA rules. This activity occurs during the season and during the offseason.

Student-Athlete Academic Enhancement – An in-season range of 15% of time checking on the players is the norm with the off-season seeing an increase to 30% as players are seen less often and coaches are often away recruiting. Directors serve as a liaison between the institution’s soccer office and the compliance office and academic advisors. They report their findings to the entire staff and try to motivate and encourage student-athletes to succeed in the classroom. When necessary, someone from the soccer staff will meet with players. Other Directors monitor players through academic progress forms completed by professors and through tracking study hall hours and tutoring times. Usually classes are checked at random or when it is appropriate.

Special Projects: The “Catch-All”

Alumni or Booster Relations and Fundraising – Directors work on alumni and booster relations, fundraising or take booster trips during the season and off-season. Some Directors travel outside of their institution’s city limits for these duties.

In order to maintain contact with former players an institution has had in its program  some Directors are responsible for compiling addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses of their alumnae and communicate with them regularly, sometimes by helping plan alumnae events.

Frequently programs hold team banquets annually. These schools utilize the Director for planning, coordination, and ordering of awards.

Some Directors act as campus liaison to students, alumni, and many other organizations on campus. In the off-season the Head Coach may become the main liaison.

Other special projects include: Scheduling player housing and other needs, training team managers, maintaining a pleasant atmosphere in the team locker room, special events and off-campus community relations name just a few of these duties.

Some Directors serve as the liaison for returning players moving into on-campus housing. They are available to meet incoming players and their families as they arrive on campus and move into residence halls. Some freshmen undergo an orientation program for athletics in addition to the one for the general student population.

Some Directors monitor team managers during practices, games, road trips and camps. The goal is to help them understand all practice drills and equipment needed to maintain the smooth flow of practice, camp and game operations. Some are also responsible for team room and locker room organization. They update individual nameplates on lockers and annually maintain the board displaying the team goals. Some coordinate locker room memorabilia, including banners, plaques, poster-sized photos, rings and awards.

Generally Directors do not stray too far from their teams. They are, after all, an extension of the head coach and must see to it that the details of things such as travel seem effortless, which helps keep the team’s focus on winning games. Directors attend practices regularly. Almost all Directors travel with their teams on road trips. Similarly almost all sit with their team on the bench during games. A few, with specific PR duties, will sit in the stands at home games and work on cultivating the team’s fan base to give them a chance to have a personal attachment to our program and to build repeat business.

Compensation

Salaries for the Directors range from $22,000 to more than $70,000 annually. An ACC-specific salary survey shows the average for ACC Directors is $38,831.

All Directors receive membership fees and National Convention costs. Some include professional licensing training or seminars, membership fees to all organizations, and subscriptions to periodicals.

Directors that manage the camps usually receive some percentage of the revenue split along with the coaches.

Directors may receive a car, an allowance option or an allotment for a car as part of their job. Some receive a clothing allotment or other gear from the apparel or sneaker company that sponsors the program. Other perks include: cell phone, lap top, and meals at the training table during the school year

Directors may receive a bonus at the end of a season. These bonuses range from one month’s salary for an NCAA berth, to bonuses for conference championships.

Medical and dental coverage is received through their institutions with some receiving vision coverage as well. Many of the Directors receive different forms of benefits as well. They receive retirement planning, some because they are employees of state institutions, where it is mandatory. As an institution employee common benefits include: tuition for immediate family members attending the same institution, reimbursement or fee remission for limited class hours per semester, and complementary tickets to school contests.

Conclusion

While heavily administrative in nature, a Director of Soccer Operations is more than a travel agent or SID. Those employed in these positions must be able to multi-task and change hats on a moment’s notice. The time demands, both internally and externally, are tremendous. The organization, management and administration of soccer program include responsibilities, such as, program budgeting, directing team travel, scheduling practice times/locations home and away, monitoring academic progress of student athletes, organizing summer camps, assisting with on-campus recruiting efforts, budgets, promotions, fund-raising, public relations and other related duties as assigned by the head coach. While they may not coach their own schools’ players, they may plan, manage and operate camps and clinics, which often are big moneymakers that may keep assistant coaches happy long, which provides program stability.

They’re basically the right-hand person to the head coach. They field ideas about team logistics or off-court opportunities and share them with the coach. The coach makes the decision based on what’s best for the team. This arrangement allows the coach to focus on the players and the game while permitting focus on the other aspects necessary to operate a successful intercollegiate soccer program. My specific expertise lies in the recruiting and media area in which I outlined a sample of ideas using modern technology and my research into capitalization rates in youth soccer, which would develop relationships with high schools and clubs around the state or country.


[1] BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer file sharing communication protocol. BitTorrent is a method of distributing large amounts of data widely without the original distributor incurring the entire costs of hardware, hosting and bandwidth resources. Instead, when data is distributed using the BitTorrent protocol, each recipient supplies pieces of the data to newer recipients, reducing the cost and burden on any given individual source, reducing dependence on the original distributor. A BitTorrent client is a program that downloads files using the BitTorrent protocol.

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