Members of the NCAA’s oversight body have previously announced an ambiguous investigation into the highly-murky football staffing process. They don’t know what their goals with the investigation are, they can’t state exactly why they’re looking into it, but they’re looking into it. For instance, one staff — “it probably isn’t who most of you think” — has 195 football-related staff members, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said Monday, though he admitted some of those 195 mystery staff members at that mystery school included undergraduate students.
However, Bowlsby did come out and specifically state one area in which the NCAA will examine, and why: strength and conditioning coaches. Bowlsby, chairman of the NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee, said the NCAA will examine how strength coaches are educated, hired and who oversees them once they’re on the job.
“There are two strength and conditioning organizations nationally,” he told the assembled press at Big 12 media days. “Neither of them have tremendously strong certification processes. We don’t have any state certification on what happens with strength and conditioning coaches, what their academic preparation is, what their standards are, how often they have to be re-certified and the like.
“We’re going to spend some time looking at strength and conditioning coaches and how they come to be strength and conditioning coaches, what they can do, how they’re supervised and the like,” he continued. “I think that all it will do is, once again, make it a safer environment for student-athletes because, when you look at the catastrophic occurrences that are happening in the sport, the deaths are happening during conditioning and off-season practice. Very few of them are happening during the season, during contact, during regular preparation.”
Though he didn’t name the cases by name, it’s hard to imagine the hospitalization of three players at Oregon shortly after Willie Taggart’s arrival wasn’t the spark of an email chain among oversight committee members. California paid out a $4.75 million settlement after Ted Agu collapsed and died following an offseason workout in 2014. Those stories happened to come at a time when strength coaches are making more money than ever, with the highest level of the profession earning more than some FBS head coaches.
The entirety of the FBS football staffing ecosystem is about to come under the NCAA’s microscope, but one area of the staff roster could get a closer look than others.