Anonymous evaluation of college coaches (WSJ Article)

Submitted by rogerwaters on March 4th, 2019 at 2:04 PM

Good Article in today’s WSJ.

The article discusses online platform where players may anonymously evaluate their coaches.  Two companies reportedly provide the platform and data evaluation for the schools. They allow for comparison of one coaches evaluation versus coaches at other schools. Not surprisingly, the article indicates that the Maryland football coaches did not do so well last year before the death of their football player.

For public schools, can these anonymous reports be obtained via FOIA?

For those of you in leadership positions, do you have mandatory 360-degree assessments?



March 4th, 2019 at 2:37 PM ^

Here is one paragraph given limited access. "College athletes anonymously reported sexual assaults, hazing, teammates selling drugs. They reported coaches having sex with athletes, inappropriate touching, bullying. Chadwick quickly realized the demand for his platform, called RealRecruit, wasn’t as a public website. It was as a private channel where athletes could provide candid feedback about their experiences—and where athletic officials could learn of potentially explosive troubles in their midst."


March 4th, 2019 at 2:47 PM ^

This sounds very similar to:

One issue with this sort of platform is validating the responses. You need some way to differentiate between the situation of a player talking about getting sexually assaulted by a coach from some shit head OSU loser making a fake account to claim the Harbaugh molested them during a sleep over. 


March 4th, 2019 at 2:29 PM ^

To your last question - I do not currently have mandatory 360-degree assessments but have been both in places that did and places that didn't.  FWIW I think they CAN be valuable tools but generally have to be part of a broader culture that creates that incentive/accountability to listen/improve (they can also be a mechanism for cowards to anonymously whine). If you don't have that broader culture then they are just things people go through and sometimes game. 

On the other side - places where senior leadership can't or don't avail themselves of this kind of feedback tend to predictably have a culture where "everyone below a certain level has strengths and weaknesses except senior leadership who just have 'a leadership style' ".


March 4th, 2019 at 2:58 PM ^

"everyone below a certain level has strengths and weaknesses except senior leadership who just have 'a leadership style' ".  Hey I work there!

The place where you can be a complete fucking dick and still get ahead,? Yup that's the one I work at. Where being dismissive is a leadership skill?


March 4th, 2019 at 4:42 PM ^

Most organizations do not want to know what their employees think of them, and it's a mistake. I am constantly advising orgs to do regular anonymous online questionnaires. The benefits are numerous. You can get a quick and early insight into hidden problems; you can address people's issues; and you can head off unjust accusations as well. Lots of organizations are plenty f'd up, but that doesn't always mean that unhappy employees have the reasons right. Unaddressed rumors can unnecessarily kill morale. With the evidence before it, management often better understands the imperatives to do the right thing(s). 

You Only Live Twice

March 4th, 2019 at 10:36 PM ^

Agreed that anonymous questionnaires are the way to go if leadership cares what workers think.  That is a big IF.  What if they don't actually care?  I mean, care as in not just protecting my paycheck but caring about people and feeling some responsibility towards those whose hard work has put the leaders where they are. How many leaders like that has anyone had?

Usually, if the feedback is truly anon (it might not be) the normal reaction among entrenched leaders is not, how can we address this?  but... how can we find out who these complainers are so we can get rid of them?

My advice on any type of employee questionnaire, even if supposedly anonymous... don't touch it.  don't even click on the link, don't access it, just don't.  No good can come of it.  Nothing is going to change based on your feedback... oh, maybe some PR crap but nothing that is real.  If the "leaders" find out someone was critical anonymously guess what that person's work life is going to be like.  If they even suspect someone of criticism without proof, not much different.

True leaders don't have such thin skin but guess what, the vast majority of workforces don't have true leaders working there.

Complainers on these anonymous surveys vanish time and time again.  Not a problem if you already have the next job lined up.  Otherwise, stay away.



March 4th, 2019 at 10:10 PM ^

Good organizations will solicit feedback on anyone who is in a leadership position.

That said - I don't like soliciting that feedback in the form of a 360 review:

(1) They can easily be gamed (a boss says "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" to his direct reports),

(2) they tend to be one-off events only conducted very occasionally, it only captures sentiment at a unique point-of-time,

(3) people can be reticent to put stuff down in writing (I find that most folk will be more open in an organic conversation), and

(4) most people have unique writing styles (good-bye anonymity, your boss has read enough of your e-mails that he will likely know which comments are yours).

The best practice, IMO, is a leader having quasi-regular (say once every 3 months) one-on-ones with their direct reports' direct reports.  Get an on-going feel for what is going on.  


March 4th, 2019 at 4:34 PM ^

It would be interesting to know who gets a response.  I would think graduating Seniors would be a good guideline.  

That would include starters and non starters but exclude kids that washed out and didn’t fit in. 


March 4th, 2019 at 9:31 PM ^

Tough call.  I would expect kids that left early would have higher negative feedback on a program. The question would be how much of that is legitimate.  

Maybe you they have their own section.   That could be part of the equation for evaluation.  

Some of these kids get sold a bunch of BS but I also suspect word gets around and kids get a vibe.  

Ty Butterfield

March 4th, 2019 at 6:48 PM ^

It is probably like any other survey or satisfaction scores. People that feel like they were wronged will fill it out and yell the loudest. Most other people won’t bother. 

Blue in St Lou

March 4th, 2019 at 11:23 PM ^

There was no juicy gossip. It was mainly about how athletic departments are using anonymous surveys to stop problems from becoming bigger problems. 

Here are the specifics:

Baylor instituted the program a year ago and says it has uncovered minor problems like limited dining hours, or so it says.

Maryland found that Durkin and conditioning coach Court were rated below average compared to 32 other schools, though the article doesn't say on what criteria.

Penn State says it has improved its oversight and reporting procedures since the Sandusky scandal, but the article doesn't say what the oversight and reporting have uncovered (or what it could possibly mean to have improved its oversight and reporting procedures from a criminal level).

Some school that may be Penn State, but maybe not (the source was a former employee from PSU and other schools), found that its athletes were abusing Adderall and says it put a stop to it.

And that's about it. I wouldn't suggest paying to get access to the whole article if you're not already a subscriber.


March 5th, 2019 at 7:25 AM ^

Good article.  Thanks for posting.  Basically, a couple of services have been created that are a cross between employee attitude surveys and employee assistance programs (EAP).   Appears most universities are using them as an additional source of information & an early warning program.  UM not mentioned.