Monte Lee knows what it is like to be a volunteer assistant coach. He spent seven of his first eight years as an assistant coach as a volunteer.
“It hits home with me,” Clemson’s head coach told The Clemson Insider. “I had to do lessons to make ends meet. I had to teach school part-time just to make ends meet and just to be able to get insurance for my family.”
Volunteer assistant coaches are just that … volunteers. They do not get paid a regular salary like the head coach and his two full-time assistants get. In fact, the school does not pay them at all. Their salaries come from running baseball camps, private coaching and other part-time jobs they can find.
“I can remember at the end of the month, pretty much having no money and having to live pretty much check to check,” Lee said. “It was tough. It was certainly hard. I know what that is like. I know what it is like to barely make ends meet to do what you love.”
That’s why Lee, like every college baseball coach in the country, was hopeful a proposal to allow schools with baseball and softball programs to hire a third full-time assistant coach. The third full-time coach would not only be paid a regular salary and receive benefits, but he or she would also be able to help recruit and alleviate some of the work and pressure the head coach and the two current full-time assistants have to take on every day.
However, none of that will happen. The NCAA Division I Council defeated a proposal on Friday to add an additional countable assistant coach in baseball and softball.
“Monday is the only day of the week when we don’t play or practice and that is a full day of work in the office trying to find scouting reports, return phone calls and emails and things of that nature,” Lee said. “College baseball coaches, we don’t take days off and these guys, volunteer assistant coaches they are running camps to make ends meet. They have part-time jobs, they have families. It’s just really disappointing, that again, we are not making our sport a priority in that regard.”
Greg Starbuck is in his fourth season at Clemson as a volunteer assistant coach. Lee is all too familiar with what Starbuck has to go through to make ends meet and he is disappointed the NCAA will not allow him and other coaches like him to be full-time assistants.
“I think that is the hardest thing when you have been there and done that and you know there are a lot of great coaches out there who are having a hard time making ends meet and literally work ten to twelve hours a day. We don’t take days off,” Lee said.
“I’m disappointed in the decision and hopefully, we can look at it again in the future and find a way to get it passed in some other form, but it is certainly a tough blow for our sport.”