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Baseball coach addresses Knight Commission on proposed coaching test changes

Tom Cantrell Knight Commission
UNG baseball coach Tom Cantrell addressed the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics on Oct. 29.

University of North Georgia (UNG) head baseball coach Tom Cantrell was selected to serve on a panel at the Oct. 29 Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics meeting at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Cantrell and others discussed the topic of coaching education, certification requirements and professional development in college sports.

Cantrell said the annual test NCAA Division II coaches are required to take to recruit players is something they don't look forward to and rarely think about after finishing it. The proposed new format would allow coaches to complete 20 modules online over a longer period of time and refer back to as a resource later when questions arise.

"Currently, it is a very tedious thing that you get prepared for once a year. You don't think about it except the week before you're getting ready to take it. And all you want to do is make sure that you answer all 40 questions in 80 minutes and get 80 percent right," Cantrell said. "The educational modules are much better. You can do a module at your own pace. You can do two or three at a time."

He said the education structure in Division II would be beneficial for Division I and Division III to adopt.

"The development of the person is first and foremost the most important thing we do. If we fail at that, then to me, we've failed at everything," Cantrell said. "The one thing I've learned as I've gotten older, it's all about the relationships and the people and watching young men grow to function in life."

Cantrell noted 45 of his former players are coaches at various levels. While he has been fortunate enough to win championships, he said when the focus shifts too far toward wins and losses, the priorities are out of line.

"What are you doing on the people end of it?" Cantrell said. "That's getting lost more and more."

One of the highlights of the trip for Cantrell was getting to have a 10-minute conversation with 7-foot-1 David Robinson, aka "The Admiral," who won two NBA championships with the San Antonio Spurs during a 14-year career. 

Director of Athletics Lindsay Reeves attended the Knight Commission meeting and appreciated Cantrell's message.

"Coach Cantrell did an outstanding job of providing a coach's point of view on Division II’s emphasis of value in the student-athlete experience," Reeves said. "His message centered around benefiting the student-athlete and that the process starts with educating, training and equipping our coaches."

The coach appreciated the chance to share his knowledge about the possible changes and speak before such a prestigious group.

"It's an opportunity to represent North Georgia. When you're representing our university, it's a big deal," Cantrell said. "We do things on the up and up. We try to be leaders for young people."

Other speakers at the session Cantrell addressed included Terri Steeb Gronau, vice president of NCAA Division II; Davis Whitfield, chief operating officer of the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS); Dan Schuster, NFHS director of educational services; and Danielle Donehew, executive director of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association.

The Knight Commission was formed by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in October 1989 to promote a reform agenda that emphasizes the educational mission of college sports. To preserve the Commission's independence, the foundation continues to be its sole supporter, but does not control, or attempt to control, the Commission's opinions or pronouncements. Over the years, the NCAA has adopted a number of the Commission's recommendations, including the rule that requires teams to be on track to graduate at least 50 percent of their players to be eligible for postseason competition.

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