An Inside Look at D-III Coaching

By Staff

Coaching Management, 13.5, April 2005,

Those who work in the NCAA Division III ranks often talk about how coaching at that level is very different from any other. So, last summer, Haverford College hosted the first edition of what’s envisioned as an annual conference to explore just what it means to coach at a Division III school.

Titled the "Division III Coaches’ Institute," its aim was multifaceted: to help coaches and administrators in D-III get better at their jobs, to talk about the nontechnical aspects of coaching, to encourage networking and pursuing career goals, to discuss developments in the NCAA affecting the division, and to foster appreciation of the Division III philosophy. The Institute tackled these goals through sessions titled "Recruiting and Admissions," "Ethics and Sportsmanship," "Appreciating Institutional Mission and Culture," "The Value of Winning and Success," and "Division III Philosophy and Practice."

The Institute also aimed to help coaches align their coaching aspirations with their own institution’s goals and mission. "Division III coaches are charged with not only creating successful programs on the playing fields, but also with upholding the educational and institutional-mission components," says William Roth, the Institute’s Executive Director and Executive Director of Development at Goucher College. "In addition, the coaching usually involves more grooming and teaching of athletes than in other divisions."

For Aaron Bowers, Head Coach at Pennsylvania State University-Altoona, the Institute helped broaden his understanding of the Division III philosophy. "We discussed how Division III is not about outside recognition so much as it is about the students and what they’re doing—things like putting class before the athletic part," he says. "I’d recommend it. It gives coaches a better understanding of what Division III is all about, and can help you decide if you want to be part of this level, or whether your beliefs don’t exactly match up with the Division III philosophy."

Bowers found many different educational models represented at the sessions. "It was all sorts of coaches from different types of schools—the liberal arts, branch campuses, state schools, with a wide range of experience levels," he says.

The second Division III Coaches’ Institute will be held June 12-14 of this year, and will include a new session on the many-hats aspect of coaching in D-III, called "Other Duties as Assigned." The cost is $475 for registration by April 22 and $525 for registration through June 3, and covers housing on campus. The event will be held at Swarthmore College this year.

For coaches who aren’t in Division III but are interested in learning about a possible career at that level, the fee is $375. "We know that this can also be a really nice networking opportunity for folks who want to know what it’s like to be in college coaching and how to become a part of it," Roth says.

For more information about the Institute, contact William Roth at: (410) 337-6097 or