High School Football

Horry County Schools to vote on proposals that would lead to raises for area coaches

North Myrtle Beach Chief coach Blair Hardin (left) talks with Loris coach Jamie Snider (right) and Myrtle Beach coach Mickey Wilson (center) during last year’s Conway National Bank Kickoff Classic press luncheon.
North Myrtle Beach Chief coach Blair Hardin (left) talks with Loris coach Jamie Snider (right) and Myrtle Beach coach Mickey Wilson (center) during last year’s Conway National Bank Kickoff Classic press luncheon. cslate@thesunnews.com

Horry County Schools has long said it doesn’t want to fall behind other areas in the state when it comes to paying varsity head coaches.

In two weeks, the board of education may make its biggest leap on that front in years.

A pair of proposals made last week will be voted on later this month. The first is to move varsity football coaches to a 220-day pay scale, up from 190 days, against their teaching salary.

The other would eliminate the 10-step program currently in use by the district for varsity coaches in all sports. Instead, HCS would use one yet-to-be determined figure for each sport. Coaches in that sport would then be paid the same supplement, regardless of experience.

The proposals, which came out of the Human Resources committee, was made during last week’s board meeting in which a 2-percent raise was proposed for all employees. For athletics purposes, though, this is a direct response to pockets around the state where coaching pay is significantly higher.

“We want to stay competitive with other places,” HCS Executive Director for Student Affairs Daryl Brown said. “We want the best people.”

If the change goes through, eight of the nine head varsity football coaches in Horry County are going to be affected. The new system would take each coach’s current daily rate (total teaching salary divided by 190 days), and add 30 days worth of pay to that.

For example, a coach currently making $35,000 a year for the teacher portion of his salary would see a raise of approximately $5,500 annually. Those currently making $50,000 would make an additional $7,895, and one pulling in $75,000 a year would receive nearly $12,000 more a year.

Those figures are all before taxes and/or other paycheck withdraws, such as retirement, insurance, etc. Each would then still be paid his regular supplement. Currently, football coaches in Horry County are paid between $7,113 and $8,670 annually for their time with the sport.

Exactly what that last part means, however, has been scrutinized by coaches, administrators and board members both locally and around South Carolina for decades. Most recently, the debate, spearheaded by Myrtle Beach’s Mickey Wilson, Aynor’s Jody Jenerette and Loris’ Jamie Snider, has to do with how much time is being put in during the offseason and especially the summer months.

“I think you’ve got a lot of guys that work extremely hard in the summer,” Wilson said Monday. “It’s hard for me to speak for everyone else, but I’m up here just as much during the summer as I am in the school year.

“I think the rest of the state, a lot of places, you look around and they’re paying a lot more than we are in Horry County. I think we need to change that.”

A 2012 statewide study conducted by The State newspaper illuminated the differential in football pay in certain areas of South Carolina. School districts in Columbia, which allow football coaches to also serve as athletics directors, comprised five of the top-10 highest paid.

Conway’s Chuck Jordan was among that list nearly four years ago, but much of that had to do with his longevity at the school, his role as Horry County’s last football coach also serving simultaneously as athletics director and the fact that he was on a 220-day pay scale. He won’t be affected by the proposal should it go through.

This move certainly isn’t reinventing the wheel. Other districts in South Carolina have already adopted 220-contracts for head football coaches in an effort to increase pay while still not allowing for salary negotiation.

The non-football coaches in Horry County won’t receive the same type of raise if the second half of the amendment is adopted. However, nearly all will see some increase.

Although the actual step that will be used won’t be locked in until the vote, Brown said he envisioned going straight to step 10 for coaches.

The difference between step one and step 10 for all sports other than football and basketball is less than $1,000 annually. If step 10 is utilized, varsity basketball coaches would all move to around $6,600 for their sport supplement (about $1,200 higher than step one coaches). Baseball and softball coaches would increase to approximately $3,300. Strength coaches would then move to about $4,300. It’s not earth-shattering money, but it is something for many coaches who are also now spending more time with their teams based on the South Carolina High School League cutting down on offseason restrictions.

The move would also simplify the process of determining experience, especially with those coming from out-of-state.

“You’re still doing the same amount of work regardless,” Brown said of getting rid of longevity-based raises. “That’s the way I see it. It pretty much levels the playing field.

“That is another thing. It gets very difficult to track that. Somebody coming into Horry County Schools, you have to make a lot of calls to [determine] experience.”

Some questions about the process won’t be answered until the board holds a full discussion on the raises and votes on them, something Brown believed would happen at the June 15 meeting.

Contact IAN GUERIN at ian@ianguerin.com.