A Contract Extension, then a Firing
If we make an abrupt decision to either reward or punish someone based on short-term results, we can quickly grow to regret our decisions.
The NCAA tournament begins today — and the next few weeks will be filled with both heroics and heartache for coaches, players and fans alike.
But there's another relevant college basketball storyline right now that we might be wise to draw from.
Already, 35 coaches have either been fired or have stepped down this season — with more change likely to occur in the coming weeks.
Of the fired coaches, several, including Ole Miss' Kermit Davis, Georgetown's Patrick Ewing, Georgia Tech's Josh Pastner and Wichita State's Isaac Brown had received significant contract offers or extensions in the last two years.
In 2021, Davis inked a new four-year deal. That same season, Georgetown reportedly signed Ewing to a three-year extension worth nearly $4 million annually. Pastner signed a contract extension through 2026, and Brown had three years left on his deal.
So, what's the relevance to us as coaches, executives and leaders?
Many of these extensions were negotiated after a coach's respective team reached a relative high — an impressive win, a conference tournament championship, some other notable feat.
In essence, athletic directors and school presidents evidently fell prisoner to the moment and became reactive in their decision making.
Now, they've dismissed the coaches they were not too long ago proud to retain, and are forced to pay significant buyouts.
The point here isn't to assess whether these recent terminations were merited or not or to speculate over who could do a better job.
It's that if we as leaders make an abrupt decision to either reward or punish someone based on short-term results, we can quickly grow to regret our decisions.
The scoreboard cannot be our only factor in evaluating performance, as it's not always indicative of the job a coach or leader is doing.
Here are some key questions to consider when deciding to promote or let someone go:
Is this person's body of work large enough to accurately assess his/her performance?
Am I making my decision based on an emotional peak or valley?
What are the key performance indicators that are shaping my decision?
What are the consequences if I'm wrong?
Time will tell whether these schools reach new heights with different leaders guiding their men's basketball programs.
But as athletic directors, reporters and fans continue to gauge productivity and effectiveness seemingly by the play, we might be wise to instead just sit back and observe.
Our major decisions in the heat of the moment can come back to burn us later on.