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Coaching or Cooking?

The Women’s Sailing Team won its second national championship in a row this past Friday; the team placed ahead of second-place Yale by five points to claim the Gerald C. Miller Trophy in the Sperry Top-Sider National Championship. Needless to say, the fifteen members of the team enjoyed a memorable experience, one likely to have taught them lifelong lessons about persistence and teamwork, and that will have forged eternal friendships. Of course, the team’s coaches are to be congratulated, too.

But just how much are the coaches appreciated by the administration? You can get a sense of the value placed on their services by this recently placed ad that the College ran to recruit a new assistant sailing coach. Look at the background required of an assistant coach and at the salary offered in exchange for the coach’s hard work:

Sailing Assistant Coach Comp.jpg

Is $32,000/year fair compensation? Hey, if a coach will accept it, then it is fair. That’s what a free market is about. I am sure that an adult with a college degree and six+ years of coaching could get a better-paying job, but when two parties agree on a salary, ‘nuf said.

Of course, if we wanted to continue the discussion, we might ask why an experienced, credentialed assistant coach would earn the equivalent of $15.38/hour for a 40-hour workweek (though we know that coaches work far more than 40 hours/week), when the lowest paid union employee at the College — a cook helper — makes $16.78/hour for a not-a-minute-more-than-40-hour week. The cook helper position requires no educational credential (not even high school) nor an any experience, and workers in equivalent positions on Main Street in Hanover make about half that level of total compensation (when you include wages, benefits and vacations).

Obviously, the College does not need to pay such an above market wage to its dining hall (and other manual) workers. Why does it do so? An economist would say that Dartmouth values its cook helpers more than its assistant sailing coaches. I’d say simply that the College is overspending so much on these people that it is then obliged to charge the second highest tuition in the Ivy League. We all have our priorities.

Addendum: At my local business, we routinely received requests for employment from College and DHMC workers — even though we pay lower salaries and offer far fewer benefits. A happy workplace attracts workers, and an unhappy one repels them, even if it pays more. In many cases, Dartmouth has the worst of both worlds: expensive, unhappy employees.

Addendum: A sharp-eyed reader spotted a couple of errors in the College’s ad:

“Dartmouth Athletics is committed to excellence for it’s student athletes, and provides a variety of student-athlete services to ensure that our team can achieve their goals both academically and on the water.”

I can see the argument for “our team” being treated as plural, as the team is comprised of individuals who most likely have different academic goals. HOWEVER, “it’s student athletes” is inexcusable. Perhaps the person who drafted the job ad ALSO gets paid less than the cook helper?

Let’s hope that in future Dartmouth Athletics will be committed to excellence in writing.


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