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Coaches Say $12,000 Not Enough

May 5, 1998

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Most of the 1,900 college coaches who won a $67 million antitrust judgment from the NCAA are in it for the love, not the money.

But $12,000 a year just doesn’t cut it for many of them.

``You eat a lot of macaroni and cheese. You shop the sales at the grocery,″ said Jerri Daniels-Elder, a former women’s track and field coach at Penn State. ``You drive a car with 100,000 miles on it. You share an apartment with three or four roommates.″

Daniels-Elder was part of the class-action suit in Kansas City, Kan., in which the NCAA on Monday was found in violation of antitrust laws. The governing body of college sports is certain to appeal.

Daniels-Elder was an assistant coach for 10 years, quitting in 1994 when she became pregnant. In 1992, the NCAA put the restricted earnings rule into effect. Her salary was cut from $24,000 to $12,000 as a result.

``Here’s your salary _ boom,″ Daniels-Elder said. ``You come to work in August and here’s your salary.″

Daniels-Elder, 38, is the women’s hammer throw coordinator for USA Track and Field and is trying to get the hammer throw certified as an Olympic event.

``It drove me out,″ she said of the lean wages. ``It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out you can’t live on $12,000 a year.″

The rule was designed to create an entry-level position for beginning coaches. But, many coaches contend, the rule penalized those who had been working for a decade or more.

The rule said institutions could pay the restricted earnings coach $12,000 during the academic year plus $4,000 for summer work, such as camps.

The NCAA also had a rule that limited restricted earnings coaches to five years of employment. The rule was recently eliminated.

Some schools tried to find other jobs for coaches. In an extraordinary closing argument, an NCAA lawyer suggested that some schools deliberately circumvented the rule by finding other jobs such as bogus camps for the restricted earnings coaches or giving them rent-free apartments.

Jennifer Dhaeniens, who coached volleyball at Michigan, also had to leaving coaching when she decided to start a family. While coaching, she had $100 left from her monthly salary after taxes and day care costs.

Her husband had a flexible job that allowed him to care for the children on some days, but she also had to rely on family.

``It became a selfish endeavor for me,″ Dhaeniens said. ``Finally, I had to quit. It was extremely hard for me to quit coaching. I just loved it so much.″

Daniels-Elder knows that given the legal process it is unlikely she will receive NCAA money any time soon.

``The money would be nice,″ she said. ``But it’s more important that the jury told the NCAA this was a bad rule and you hurt people. They don’t think about people. People do these jobs. The jury said `This is a pretty bad rule and you hurt people.′

``(The jury) thought about it for three days and a weekend. I don’t think it was a snap judgment. They decided this rule really hurt people.

``Now I can’t feel too bad they’re going to have to pay some serious cash.″

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