A new bill making its way through the New Jersey legislature could provide high school coaches in the state with multiyear contracts and afford those facing nonrenewal with an unprecedented avenue for appeal.
The bill, which is sponsored by assemblyman Benjie Wimberly, would ensure high school head coaches who are also tenured employees get a guaranteed three-year contract. Assistant coaches fitting the same criteria would be assured a two-year contract. Coaches are also allowed a hearing if their pay is cut or if they are dismissed.
Critics of the bill say it could make it harder for school’s to remove coaches when necessary, as coaches in New Jersey are currently only given one-year renewable contracts.
The Assembly Education Committee unanimously advanced Wimberly’s legislation last month in a 10-0 vote with one abstention.
For his part, Wimberley told the Bridgewater Courier News that he’s very optimistic the bill will pass at the state level.
“I think it’s a major protection for coaches when it comes to being unjustly fired,” Wimberly said. “In many cases, guys are being fired because they didn’t play a school board member’s child, or a (student-athlete) didn’t play a position they wanted to play, so you have parents go to the school board and make an issue out of it.
“But let’s also make it clear. If you do something that’s out of character that blatantly gives you grounds for being fired, you would still be terminated. That’s not the protection we are looking for. We are trying to protect good guys.”