Reorganization planned for sports
Part 3 in a 3 part series
The College continues its efforts to revamp Oberlin’s athletic department next year with the hiring of five new coaches and a Sports Information Director. Most of the new hirings are designed to relieve the burden on department employees who are currently splitting their time in multiple positions.
“Right now we’re light-years behind and we’re trying to catch up,” Director of Athletics Vin Lananna said. “Everyone knows that the athletic department has been functioning on a shoestring and part of the improvement is to restructure how we do business so we’re more in line with our peer institutions.”
The College will be hiring a new women’s soccer coach to allow Coach Jane Wildman to focus full time on her position as Senior Women’s Administrator, a position she has held in addition to coaching for the last two years. A new head cross-country coach will be hired to allow current coach Jason Hudson to work with men’s middle distance runners. The department is also in the market for a new associate coach for field hockey and women’s lacrosse.
Eric Lahetta who is currently both head baseball coach and Director of Sports Information, will return to baseball full time and a new assistant athletic director and Director of Sports Information will be hired.
New football offensive and defensive coordinators will be hired to replace Rob Oldham and Jay Lukes, who are leaving at the end of this year.
The new hirings are an especially strong show of support by the College for athletics, considering that the College is going into what President Nancy Dye has called one of the hardest years financially in Oberlin’s history. To cut costs, the College is currently operating under a hiring freeze, which prohibits the creation of new positions.
“This is part of the effort to upgrade athletics,” she said. “The College periodically unfreezes positions when there is a pressing need and we have done that several times.”
Some students, however, have doubts about the gravity of the situation.
“If this is really a serious situation I can understand it,” one former Oberlin athlete said. “But if the department is just trying to hire more coaches and administrators that could be a real problem. Especially when the whole College is hurting financially and the Environmental Studies Department only has two professors.”
Lananna remains adamant that these changes are necessary for the continued operation of the department.
“Having a baseball coach as a sports information officer is not a workable situation,” he said.
Lahetta, who has been Interim Director of Sports Information for the past two and a half years, agreed.
“The Sports Information job is a job that needs full-time attention,” he said. “Our athletes deserve to be given the recognition. This will help the College in many ways. We need to get the word out that our athletics is improving.”
The NCAA requires that schools have an Information Director to write press releases, compile statistics and oversee communications with the conference.
The senior women’s administrator position also entails a wide range of responsibilities.
“You’re involved in a little bit of everything,” Wildman said. “As senior women’s administrator you have a big role in working to make sure we’re achieving gender equity issues regarding Title IX and coordinating various programs with the NCAA. You’re also a representative at conference meetings. You’re the point person in terms of women’s athletics.”
Wildman said she was very busy working as both soccer coach and administrator but that she “likes being involved in activity all over campus.”
She also saw the new arrangement as necessary.
“With being a full time coach, there are a lot of administrative things to be done. It will be helpful to have someone else around to work on that. It’s important to have a female coach on the administrative staff. After coaching women’s sports for 10 years I have a unique perspective. You need someone with that perspective to have a real role in making decisions.”
No formal appointments have been made at this time, but Lananna said the department’s goal was to have many of the positions filled by May 28. According to basketball coach Frank Dobbs, who is leading the search committee for the new football coaches, several candidates have already visited campus and the committee is nearing a decision. Lananna, who is leading the search for the new head cross-country coach, said they are near a decision for that position as well.
Lananna sees these changes as part of a larger effort to finally make Oberlin a force to be reckoned with in intercollegiate sports.
“My goal is that within the next year there we will have one of the best coaching staffs in Division III,” he said. “The key is to enhance those positions. Allow head coaches do what they need to do in teaching, coaching and administrating. Demonstrated success is what we’re looking for: good teachers and good fits for our mission at Oberlin College.”