09 August 2017
Dr. Chuck Stiggins, CSCCa Executive Director
There has been a great deal of concern regarding an article that recently appeared on Football Scoop which quoted Bob Bowlsby, the Big 12 Conference Commissioner and Chairman of the NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee, as follows:
There are two strength and conditioning organizations nationally. Neither of them have tremendously strong certification processes. We don't have any state certification on what happens with strength and conditioning coaches, what their academic preparation is, what their standards are, how often they have to be re-certified and the like.
The CSCCa National Office has been bombarded with calls and emails from concerned CSCCa members regarding Bowlsby's comments which reference the SCCC certification. Please be assured that I have sent information to Mr. Bowlsby about the SCCC certification.
It is hard to imagine how anyone who is familiar with the SCCC certification examination process could consider it "weak" when it is undoubtedly the most rigorous and most comprehensive strength and conditioning certification in the industry. What is lacking, however, is the enforcement of legitimate, accredited strength and conditioning certification'a situation we are working diligently to rectify.
Another concern is the development of focus areas within athletic training. One of these areas of focus is Performance Enhancement.This is very concerning as there is the danger that athletic administrators, especially at smaller institutions, may give preference to hiring ATCs with the Performance Enhancement area of focus, believing one hire can fulfill both the needs of the athletic training staff as well as the strength and conditioning staff.
From Day 1, the CSCCa has fought dual certification i.e., strength & conditioning coach and, for example, sport coach, athletic trainer, physical therapist, personal trainer, teacher/researcher, etc. Each of these areas in and of itself is extremely broad and vast in scope, making it impossible to stay current on applicable research, skills, techniques, etc., while performing duties in more than one area. In addition, dual certification in more than one area potentially decreases the quality and quantity of jobs available to the full-time, collegiate strength & conditioning coach.
We know that a very specific, unique skill set is needed to be an effective strength and conditioning coach and that coaching is as much an art as a science. It is not an afterthought, but rather a profession that requires and deserves complete focus and dedication.
The CSCCa continues to advocate for the value and importance of having full-time strength and conditioning coaches on every athletic staff. The SCCC certification is the "gold standard" in the industry and is restricted to currently practicing strength and conditioning coaches of collegiate and professional athletic teams and to students preparing for this profession.
In addition, it requires completion of a 640-hour practicum/internship prior to being eligible to sit for the SCCC certification exam, which includes both a written and practical portion.
The written portion of the exam includes questions of both a scientific and practical nature which evaluate the candidate's mastery of foundational knowledge in a variety of areas.
The practical portion of the exam is designed to evaluate the ability of the candidate to safely and effectively apply the knowledge that he/she has gained in the classroom setting in a practical working environment.
This portion of the certification exam involves designing a comprehensive strength and conditioning program based upon solid periodization concepts for a specified sport (the designated sport changes with each exam administration to ensure SCCC certified coaches are properly trained in sport specific program design) and being able to provide the rationale for the design of the program to a panel of highly qualified veteran Master Strength and Conditioning Coaches.
The practical exam also includes the demonstration and teaching of selected strength and conditioning exercises. You cannot simply read a textbook and take the SCCC certification exam to obtain the SCCC credential.
No other certification comes close to these requirements. Other watered down certifications devalue the strength and conditioning profession by making it available to practically everyone and anyone. Every full-time collegiate strength and conditioning coach should hold the SCCC certification to promote higher standards in the profession.
Due to recent deaths and injuries that have occurred during conditioning sessions, the requirements for being a collegiate level strength and conditioning coach have become the focus of intense scrutiny and discussion, as evidenced by the CBS Sports article last spring and the recent Football Scoop article in which Mr. Bowlsby was quoted, and most recently another CBS Sports Article dealing with the tragic death of a Kent State student-athlete.
The CSCCa is extremely sensitive to all concerns regarding athlete health and safety. Indeed, the primary concern of the CSCCa is the health and safety of the student athlete and ensuring that they are provided safe and effective strength and conditioning programs developed and administered by qualified and appropriately certified, full-time strength and conditioning coaches.
For this reason, the CSCCa Certification Commission recently voted to strengthen the education prerequisite by requiring that all first-time SCCC Candidates must obtain either a bachelor's or master's degree in Exercise Science or a related field, effective August 1, 2018 (first applicable for the Spring 2019 SCCC Certification Exam). This provides a two-year window to allow future candidates to make necessary educational preparations and is an extremely important step in bringing additional credibility and respect to the profession.
You are strongly encouraged to speak with your athletic administrators and head sport coaches and let them know that you support the SCCC certification and believe it should be the only accepted certification for all collegiate strength and conditioning coaches. This unity and support of the SCCC certification is much needed and is in the best interest of the profession. Until it is achieved, the NCAA and other groups will continue to see the strength and conditioning coaching profession as fragmented and unregulated. We must take control of our own destiny.Otherwise, we run the risk of losing our autonomy and identity as coaches and being placed under the sports medicine umbrella.
Do not be complacent and think that others will fight this battle for you. It is the responsibility of every collegiate strength and conditioning coach to take an active role in determining the future of this profession. Consider this a call to action!