Coach-pay vote disappoints Van Horn

By: Bob Holt
Published: Sunday, April 21, 2019
Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn watches from the dugout during a game against Mississippi State on Saturday, April 20, 2019, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn watches from the dugout during a game against Mississippi State on Saturday, April 20, 2019, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- After the University of Arkansas baseball team beat Mississippi State 12-5 on Friday night, Razorbacks Coach Dave Van Horn wasn't planning to say much about the news earlier in the day that the NCAA Division I Council had voted down an SEC proposal to add a third paid assistant for baseball and softball teams.

But Van Horn, who never has been shy about expressing his feelings, couldn't help himself.

"It's just disappointing some of the schools that voted no," Van Horn said. "They're supposedly supporting their coaches and their team.

"Some big schools. Real big. Baseball-type powers."

The Big 12 and Big Ten were the two major conferences that voted against the measure.

"The Big Ten and the Big 12, it should be unanimous," Van Horn said of all the major conferences voting for the proposal. "It makes no sense [to vote against it]."

Texas, which according to USA Today led the nation in athletic department revenue with $214,830,647 last year, was among the Big 12 schools that didn't support the proposal, along with Oklahoma and Texas Tech. The Big Ten reportedly voted 13-1 against the measure.

"If they don't want to take any of their millions of dollars and pay another coach, I get it," Van Horn said. "But at least they could give an opportunity for somebody to go recruit. That's all they had to do is pass it, so someone could recruit."

The proposal, if passed, wouldn't have required schools to add a third paid assistant in baseball and softball, but would have given them the option if that's what they wanted to do. A school in favor of the proposal such as Arkansas would have made its volunteer coach a paid assistant.

"The biggest problem in hiring coaches -- and I've had to hire a few the last few years because my coaches have done well and gone on to be head coaches and things -- is that they don't have experience recruiting," said Van Horn, who has had two volunteer coaches leave for Division I assistant jobs in the past two offseasons. "If you have a third coach, maybe he's still just working camps and getting paid that way and other ways, but at least he can go on the road and recruit. He can prove to you that he knows what a good player is -- or is going to be -- and has experience [recruiting]."

Van Horn said having a third assistant coach who could recruit also would help the players already on college teams.

"I feel bad for the players," Van Horn said. "We're having to go out and recruit, and there's nobody here to coach them."

Van Horn, who has an annual financial package of $925,000 before incentives, confirmed a Twitter post by D1Baseball.com managing editor Kendall Rogers that Van Horn would be willing to pay for a third assistant out of his own salary.

"Yeah, I said it," Van Horn said. "That's how important it is. If it came down to budget -- and we don't have that money in the budget -- well, here's some. I'll give it to you, whatever. We're going to get it for you.

"We already give [the volunteer coach] all our camp money. We don't hardly take any, if any, just so we can have him here. He doesn't have any benefits. Me personally, it's hard for me to hire a volunteer coach that has a family, because I feel guilty. Because what if someone gets sick? A kid needs to go to the doctor. Hopefully his wife has a good job that has benefits.

"So there's a lot that goes into it. It's not just baseball-related."

Kansas Athletic Director Jeff Long, who held the same position at Arkansas, voted in favor of the proposal, as did Big 12 athletic directors from Baylor, TCU and Kansas State, according to D1Baseball.

Texas Athletic Director Chris Del Conte told DIBaseball he would have voted for adding a third paid assistant for baseball, but not for softball as well.

"In baseball, there's obviously a need for a third full-time assistant when you look at ratios and the student-athletes competing in baseball," Del Conte said. "I have not vetted softball, and I want to have more dialogue with our softball coach and others before voting 'yes' on the full proposal."

Van Horn didn't sound satisfied by such an explanation.

"They got together and put together what they were all going to say and told each other what to say and that's what they're saying," Van Horn said of those who voiced opposition to the proposal. "Kind of sad."

Van Horn paused for a couple of seconds.

"I told you I wasn't going to talk about it a whole lot, but yeah, I did," he said. "I knew I would."

Sports on 04/21/2019

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