Quality coaching

In recent days, Northern Star staff members and several NIU Athletic Board members have strongly criticized the firing of Mr. Rosborough as basketball coach. Oddly, the criticism has avoided the main question: the quality of coaching. This question goes beyond won-loss records. This question is more central than Mr. Rosborough’s good character. Good character is desirable in a coach, though not the only attribute for which he or she is hired and retained.

One gets the impression from your pages that the complainers never attended a game the past three years (which is a reasonable assumption since few people attend games any more). The arguments have revolved around won-loss records, character, and keeping promises, arguments that ignore quality. One aspect of quality is recruitment. Where are the blue-chip recruits we were led to expect when Mr. Rosborough was hired and from his comments as recent as this season? Why is our top recruit next year the third-best player on a mediocre Elgin team? Why have there been difficulties in retention of players in the last three years (and I’m not referring to Kenny Battle), players we sorely needed this year? Another aspect of quality is teaching. Why have our players, after two years together, still not learned how to run a fast break? When the other team keeps running the same play to free a shooter, how come adjustments are not made during the game to counter the play? I’m uncomfortable mentioning the lapses in quality (though I could cite more) in Mr. Rosborough’s present circumstances, but someone has to counter the complaints of those who attack the athletic director for his refusal to tolerate the low aspirations of many in our NIU community.

It is not the firing of coaches who do not fulfill their promise of excellence that is the cause of NIU’s basketball problems. If you want a villain, it is the foolish decision a couple of years ago to drop out of a reputable conference. I don’t recall any members of the Athletic Board protesting that decision or resigning out of principle then, even tough the board was not consulted in that more far-reaching decision. Their indignation over the firing is for the wrong event, at the wrong time.

Martin Kaplan


Department of Psychology