President William Powers Jr. and other University representatives announced Monday the formation of the Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation.
Directed by Daron Roberts, a lecturer in the College of Liberal Arts and a Longhorn Network analyst, the center will create a pilot certification program that teaches high school coaches about handling student integrity, offer a pilot financial literacy course for University students and enable research about sports leadership, character reform and health awareness.
Using revenue from the Longhorn Network, the Office of the President will fund the center with $300,000 per year for the next three years.
“We’ve long known that sports can teach critical values like teamwork and discipline,” Powers said. “I’m excited to explore new ways to use the inherent power of sports for the force of good.”
The pilot certification program within the center will allow experts in the fields of coaching and character development to travel to high schools for a two-day, 10 hour certification program for high school football and women’s basketball coaches.
“Each year, we will unite the leading scholars from across the country, and these leaders will guide coaches on the most effective detection and intervention methods for drug and alcohol abuse, domestic and sexual assault and concussion awareness and sound decision-making,” Roberts said.
There have been programs working to improve student athlete behavior at a collegiate and professional level before the center, but Roberts said he wants to get these values ingrained in student athletes at a younger age, especially the high school level.
“What we want to do is to push those innovations further down the pipeline,” Roberts said.
Men's athletic director Steve Patterson said that athletics will be assisting in this training initiative.
“We look forward to working with Daron in his efforts to try and take some of the types of learning we’ve had with our student athletes currently, and the rest of campus, and carry them to high school coaches and others,” Patterson said.
The one-hour pilot financial literacy course is set to start in fall 2015.
“As a national discussion on increasing aid to student athletes continues, Texas will take a proactive step in equipping our young people with the sound financial instruction that they need to propel them for success after they leave the 40 Acres,” Roberts said.
Powers said that, while student athletes transitioning to professional outlets will benefit from the course, it is of value and available to all students to assist in financial endeavors after college.
“That’s a small percentage of our student athletes,” Powers said. “When we say financial literacy, we mean much larger than that.”
Roberts said that the start of the center is not a response to the behavior of athletes at UT or elsewhere.
“This is just the University saying that we have responsibility to mold young men and women into responsible citizens,” Roberts said.