Leading the Entourage

Teaming up to Build Tradition

As the last 30 years of Oregon’s sports heritage played out, Oregon established itself as a top competitor in the Pac-10 as well as within the entire NCAA. This, however, has required increased commitment from coaches and support staff.

The football team, which was once directed by two or three part-time coaches, is now led by head coach Mike Bellotti, nine assistant-position coaches, a trainer, and two graduate assistants. The program is complimented by several administrative and support staff. As one of two sports which bring in profits for athletics, the need for success on the field has prompted the growth in coaching squads and responsibilities.

Although not necessarily a revenue-generating sport for the University, the women’s basketball team also demands more from coaches than it did 20 years ago. Today’s team is mentored by head coach Bev Smith, three assistants, and a director of basketball operations. In order to be competitive in today’s arena, every element of the coaching role, from recruiting to NCAA compliance matters, must be strategically addressed.

Women's basketball, 1978
Women's basketball, 1978

A trend toward shorter coaching tenures has unfolded as the University strives to keep pace in the growing competitive landscape. For instance, Vin Lanana has taken over the duties for the track and field and cross-country teams as well as serving as an associate athletic director. Lanana replaced Martin Smith after seven years at the helm, a tenure that lasted only one-third of that of previous U of O track and field coaches (Bill Dellinger, Bill Bowerman, and Bill Hayward).

Faced with the pressures to balance the best interests of the athletes, the demands to win in competitions, and the expectations of administrators, alumni, and fans, today’s coaches not only assume full-time roles for the teams, but also take on the burden of the overall image and reputation of the sport in conjunction with the University. Finding and securing people to fill those duties poses interesting challenges for Oregon. As the intercollegiate offerings at the University strive to establish their positions on the national scene, top-quality coaching gains importance-an element that will undoubtedly reshape Oregon’s sports heritage.