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No Shortcuts

Last Tuesday at the office building of the Michigan High School Athletic Association, 49 athletic directors gathered for training. All are first-year ADs, and 38 of them were attending their second training session at the MHSAA.

It was the fourth session for new athletic directors the MHSAA has hosted since late July. A total of 113 different first-year ADs attended.

That’s a typical number of new ADs. And we’re experiencing the typical problems with mistakes and oversights that turn into ineligibilities and forfeits that come not just from new ADs but also from more veteran ADs who have had many new duties added to their days, but with less time and help to do everything that needs to be done.

At one school, an overwhelmed AD resigned after his school’s football and soccer teams had both used ineligible players. The school posted the job opening to replace him with the salary set at 50 percent above the previous pay. It has learned that cutting the budget for sports administration can do a lot more harm than good.

Full-time, continuously trained athletic administrators are essential to the conduct of safe and successful interscholastic athletics. There are no shortcuts to success, and a competent leader who is hungry to keep learning about policies, procedures and best practices is the starting point.

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About the Author

Jack Roberts

Jack Roberts has been at the helm of the MHSAA as its Executive Director since 1986, implementing programs and overseeing tournament administration and regulations for the Association which boasts 1,500 member schools, 10,000 registered officials and 13,000 head coaches.

During the last 45 years, Roberts has spoken to educator and athletic groups, business leaders and civic groups in almost every state and five Canadian provinces. He is one of the nation's most articulate advocates for educational athletics.

Roberts has served on the board of directors of the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO), is in his second term on the board of the National Federation of State High School Associations, and is the first chairman of the NFHS Network board of directors. He has been board president for the Refugee Development Center for nine years, and is a past-chair of the board of directors of the Michigan Society of Association Executives. He is chair of the board of trustees for the Capital Region Community Foundation for 2018.

He is a 1970 graduate of Dartmouth College, where he played defensive safety for the Ivy League's winningest football team during that span, and he sang in Dartmouth's close harmony vocal group.

His wife, Peggy, has retired from a 30-year career in social services, and is serving as president of the board of the Fenner Nature Conservancy in Lansing.