Navigating the Dilemma: Choosing a “Dead-End” Job in College Athletics


MARCH, 2024

Entering the world of collegiate athletics often involves tough decisions, and for strength coaches, the decision to take a job knowing it’s a dead-end opportunity can be particularly challenging. Mostly what I mean by dead-end is knowing that the head coach you’re about to work for is in the hot seat and likely to get fired. Being in the industry this long, I’ve been there! So let’s walk through the thought process of facing this dilemma, weighing the pros and cons and considering the implications for both career and family.

The Initial Offer: Imagine receiving an offer for a strength coaching position at a university with a renowned football program. It’s an exciting opportunity to work with elite athletes and be part of a prestigious program. However, there’s a catch – rumors swirl that the head football coach is on the brink of being fired. Your emotions will run the gamut of highs to lows and back and forth again.

First up, the PROs of Taking the Job

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the head coach’s future, accepting the job offers immediate financial stability for your family. It provides an opportunity to gain valuable experience, network within the industry, and continue honing coaching skills while providing for loved ones.

The Other Side, Cons of Taking the Job

On the flip side, accepting a position with a looming coaching change means potentially uprooting your family for a temporary role. Is it actually worth moving your whole family? Or is it worth living apart from your family for a period of time? It also raises questions about job security, career advancement, and the impact of frequent moves on family stability and personal well-being. 

Weighing Career Prospects

It’s easy to say any job is better than no job, but you must consider whether taking the dead-end job is worth sacrificing long-term career prospects. Will it lead to other opportunities down the line, or will it pigeonhole you into a role with limited growth potential? It’s a gamble that requires careful consideration of short-term gains versus long-term career goals. I would have to carefully consider if I was willing to accept a ‘dead end’ job, and then if an opportunity came a couple months later, was I willing to abandon the team and my commitment for a better, longer-term position? 

Family Considerations

Moving the family for a short-term job adds another layer of complexity. While the opportunity may provide financial stability, it also disrupts family life and stability, especially for children adjusting to new schools and environments. You must weigh the impact on family happiness and well-being against professional aspirations. It’s likely your spouse knew what they signed up for with your career as a coach, but that’s not a reason to move them unnecessarily.

Networking and Experience

Despite the drawbacks, the dead-end job offers a chance to build new connections and gain more experience in the collegiate athletics landscape. It opens doors to potential future opportunities and positions the coach for success in the long run, even if the current role is temporary. While the drawbacks of a short-term position are obvious, this pro is a HUGE one in my mind.

Waiting for the Right Opportunity

Alternatively, the coach may choose to hold out for a more promising opportunity, even if it means enduring a period of uncertainty. Patience can be challenging, but waiting for the right fit aligns with long-term career goals and minimizes the risk of career stagnation.

Ultimately, the decision to accept a dead-end job in college athletics is deeply personal and requires careful consideration of professional aspirations, family needs, and long-term career goals. While it may provide immediate financial stability and networking opportunities, it also comes with inherent risks and sacrifices. By weighing the pros and cons thoughtfully, strength coaches can navigate this dilemma with clarity and confidence, ensuring that their career choices align with their values and aspirations.

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