The University of Wisconsin Athletic Board introduced two new coaches, approved contracts for three coaches and discussed the student athlete alcohol policy during its monthly meeting Friday.
Athletic Board Chair Dale Bjorling congratulated his board members for successfully hiring new football coach Gary Andersen and volleyball coach Kelly Sheffield. He said both new coaches seem to be a good fit at UW.
According to Bjorling, the Athletic Department had to post the vacancy for both positions for two weeks before the hiring decisions were made, noting this decision to keep the positions open for that amount is stipulated by state statute, despite frustration from football fans to replace former coach Brett Bielema sooner.
Bjorling added race also played a factor in the interview process for both candidates.
“The other thing is in both instances, you have to be careful to make sure that you include minority candidates that are perceiving reasonable consideration,” Bjorling said. “Frankly, in volleyball it’s a pretty small community, so your choices are limited.”
Football has a much broader field of minority coaching candidates, according to Bjorling. He confirmed there was at least one minority coach seriously considered before hiring Andersen. The candidate was an assistant coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he decided to take a position with another NFL team, Bjorling said.
While interviewing one minority candidate for the job is not a requirement in NCAA football like it is in the NFL, Bjorling noted the Black Coaches Association has expressed concern about the lack of minority coaches. Bjorling added that was also an issue when Bielema was hired seven years ago.
In addition to these new acquisitions, the board approved the athletic department recommendations to extend the three-year contracts of men’s cross country coach Mick Byrne, men’s soccer coach John Trask and women’s soccer coach Paula Wilkins through Jan. 2016, according to an athletic department statement.
Barb Smith, Athletic Board Equity, Diversity and Student Welfare Committee chair, said there will be adjustments to student athlete alcohol policy.
Smith said alcohol is not something you can regulate for someone who is over 21.
“But if it’s really for the safety of student athletes or their teammates, the strength and conditioning coach now has a way to say, ‘let’s not lift today,’” Smith said.
Previously, Bjorling said trainers or assistant coaches could intervene if they suspected drug use among student athletes, but the policies did not say anything about alcohol.
He added the Athletic Board expects student athletes to behave responsibly, but other than campus policies there is not much the athletic department can do to restrict drinking among of-age student athletes.
“It’s really more of a safety issue,” Bjorling said. “It’s not a testing or sending anybody to rehab or anything like that.”
Athletic Director Barry Alvarez noted coaches often times enforce rules regarding alcohol for their specific teams.