USC’s Haden Hires Enfield – Not A Basketball Story – Strategy, Leadership, Decision Making & No Crystal Ball

The article reads, USC’s Athletic Director Pat Haden hires FGCU’s Andy Enfield to lead and improve or rescue USC’s basketball program.

First a different issue: is it okay for Enfield to leave FGCU under these circumstances?  Well . . . I guess that’s just the way sports are now – the first school and the coach have a contract, but a new second school contacts the coach and arranges to hire him (depending on the terms of the contact between the first school and the coach, perhaps interference with the first school’s contract and business advantage?), and although there is a contact between the first school and the coach, apparently either party cancels or perhaps breaches the contract at will, perhaps with a payment of some sort back to the injured party.

More interesting discussions are about strategy, risk or uncertainty management, decision making, governance, and leadership.  The article about USC/Haden hiring Enfield, Click Here For Article, reads like Enfield is a relative unknown or unproven coach but that USC is in a poor position and has no relative chance to attract a more proven coach.  Hence, the arrangement is probably a good one for both Enfield and USC/Haden.

This is certainly one way that an Athletic Director like Haden earns his money.  He made the decision.  Is he a hero or a goat?  Time will tell.  There is no crystal ball.  If it goes well he might even be  a genius.  But if the article is correct, Enfield has some definite proven good qualities but this is an uncertain decision with definite risks and uncertainties.  Without a doubt in basketball and in most sports the head coach makes or breaks the program and the team.  The head coach attracts the talent/players to the team and to the school (can he recruit or bring in the student/players that USC wants and needs), the coach leads the talent on the court (right attitude, approach demeanor and motivation, and does he know today’s winning basketball and how to teach it?), do the players get a good education for life after USC and do they graduate, the coach is the public figure of the team except when the players do good or bad things in public, or there are NCAA violations (shouldn’t be any), and then the coach is potentially responsible for those actions but certainly does have to deal with them, and all of the other things that go with being a head coach, such as all of the people that he needs to be able to work with or handle.

And Enfield appears to have made the decision to move to USC fast – how much does he actually know about the USC program, the good and bad of the program, what he has to work with, how much time he has to succeed, and about the stakeholders (the people that he will work with or under, and the alumni)?

The risks for USC/Haden: was it a good choice, and if it goes well, how long will Enfield stay with USC?  If it wasn’t a good choice, should there be repercussions to Haden?  USC needs to get its basketball program in order, along with its football program.  Both are disappointing for a school like USC.

The risks for Enfield: most likely it was a step up but there are uncertainties about what he will face at USC – can he attract the talent and will his approach work there?  Well . . . he gets the chance to prove himself on a bigger stage so no risk to Enfield there unless the program at USC is dysfunctional and he cannot fix it.  But in that circumstance it isn’t necessarily his fault.  If Enfield doesn’t succeed, either because of the program at USC or because he isn’t the coach that USC/Haden hope that he is, then he’s fired eventually but is picked up again by another school of reasonable but perhaps less quality or visibility. Most likely this is a good opportunity for Enfield.

This will be an interesting progression to watch in the coming years, depending on how long the relationship lasts.

Dave Tate, Esq. (San Francisco) – see my March 28 blog post for board, audit committee, annual self-evaluation, dispute resolution and other useful forms.

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