NHIAA job still a plum assignment

Now that former Nashua High School and Nashua High School North Principal R. Patrick Corbin has announced he will step down July 1 as executive director of the organization that oversees high school athletics in the state, New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association officials say they will begin a national search for Corbin’s successor.

We think they shouldn’t.

The chances that a search committee would recommend hiring someone from outside the state seems about the same as Hillary Clinton selecting Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to be her running mate on the 2016 presidential ticket. It could happen, in theory, but it’s a far-fetched notion.

Corbin’s position at the NHIAA is considered one of the plum jobs in the state’s athletic community, and there will likely be a stampede of in-state candidates who would like to replace him.

Especially when you consider that the job carries a salary of more than $125,000, with $11,000 in other compensation added in, according to the 2012 tax return filed by the NHIAA. That’s more money than a lot of the state’s school superintendents make, which helps explain why the last two NHIAA executive directors – Corbin and James Desmairas before him – came from the ranks of high school principals.

That level of leadership experience is important. It’s also fair to say that a familiarity with New Hampshire high school athletics would rank relatively high on the list of attributes an NHIAA director should have. That’s not a trait a candidate from Kansas or California is likely to possess in abundance.

The NHIAA, at its most basic, is a consortium of public and private school districts who pay annual dues. It has a small staff, but it’s the superintendents, principals, athletic directors and coaches that serve on its many committees that really make the organization function. It is best known as the organization that hosts state championship tournaments in various sports.

Leading the group is not all fun and games, as Corbin noted in an interview with The Telegraph in which he explained why he decided to step down after eight years: “It’s not one issue. Just so many things in general, the enormous turnover of (athletic directors) and principals that have to be trained on our policies and don’t share the same philosophy on the importance of athletics in an educational environment. The parents who feel they are entitled. The motivation for participation overall has changed, and it wears you down.”

Corbin’s legacy as NHIAA director will likely be most closely associated with the addition of bowling and bass fishing as school-sanctioned sports, and he joked in an email he sent to NHIAA members that, were he staying on, he might have sought to add NASCAR-style stock-car racing to the state’s portfolio of offerings.

We’ve heard worse ideas.

Like mounting a national search for Corbin’s successor. That strikes us as a case of overkill and something that ought to be a last resort, given the probability that the next director will be someone who is already in the state anyway.

It’s also worth noting that a national search is the kind of thing that can quickly run into serious money.

We think it would be better if those superindents, principals and others connected to the NHIAA acted like it was still taxpayer money they’re using, which is where a large share of the NHIAA’s annual budget starts out before school districts turn it over to the organization in the form of dues.

With that in mind, they should start their search in their own backyard and branch out from there, if necessary.

We suspect it won’t be.


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