Frequently coaches are presented with a dilemma which defines both player and coach. The decision usually involves whether or not the player remains with the team, perhaps the high school or university, and most certainly becomes an indelible mark for everyone involved. Decisions that are clear cut and without reproach are layups. It is the decisions that include many different factors that make it difficult.
Here are some suggestions that may assist you:
1) GET ALL THE FACTS.
This simply means that we often make haste before gathering every detail....slow down and do not let your initial disappointment cloud your judgment.
Once you have completed your fact finding mission it is important to sequentially make a list of the most important considerations.
You have bosses and they need to know exactly what is going on: the worst thing is for them to be surprised and find out from someone else. Moreover, secrets kill! Thus, with a sensitivity to confidentiality, you must move in a professional manner to inform your superiors. This actually is a tremendous opportunity to display your best self and work through teachable moments for all.
4) DO NOT LIE.
When trouble knocks, and it will, tell the truth as you know it. It does not feel good to have one of your own screw up but it does happen. You are working with young people and they make mistakes. It is important that you understand this yet by no means are you cadoning the behavior.
Discipline is consistency. We should be thinking about whether or not "the time fits the crime" and certainly there must be consequences for actions. After you have come up with an appropriate punishment, the communication should be with the player and team after you have worked all this through your administration; the fewer people involved the better but sometimes it just doesn't work that way.
6) STAY THE COURSE.
Often times we fret needlessly about what will happen If the player is no longer around. In short, you are the head coach and must set an example of calmness and clarity. You cannot personalize the inappropriate behavior: you have a job to do and all roads lead to your chair. A healthy and wise ego comprehends that he/she must consider what is best for "the many."
When you are being evaluated about why and how you made a decision, especially with discipline of a serious nature, you must have records of meetings, content, a well defined process, which shows a professional approach. The best guide here is to think like you are going to be asked by the school attorney for your records. It is embarrassing and regretful if you haven't thought this through.
8) TOUGH LOVE
You show compassion at all times but the fact is you must handle difficult decisions. Do not act cowardly and defer to your players or assistants. Yes, it is smart to solicit input but then you must walk tall and make the call: the "hard call." Anyone can make easy decisions: few can make the call when 50% favor and 50% oppose !
When trouble comes we have a tendency to isolate ourselves. DON'T. It is a good idea to reach out to several older coaches who have, "been there done that." You are NOT the only one who has ever gone through this so don't act like it. The point here: when you step into the ring of coaching you will get hit.... maybe you have a glass jaw or maybe you don't. A quality "cut man" can save you lost blood.
Before these situations come up discuss them with your boss. A good way of doing this is to use real examples as they happen to others. For example, ask your A.D. what she would do if X happened and what they would expect from you in that situation. Additionally, write down the protocol and put that in your blueprint book so that when the storm hits you pretty much have a system or code to guide you. The alternative of just winging it rarely works.
I love coaches and just want to see you live to coach another day.