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Paul Holmes's research on firing of college coaches assists reporter covering Illini story
Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Paul Holmes
Paul Holmes, Ph.D.

Economics Professor Paul Holmes, Ph.D.,  author of the paper, "Win or Go Home; Why College Football Coaches Get Fired," published in the April 2011 issue of the Journal of Sports Economics, was interviewed by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch  about head football coach Ron Zook of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

In his research, Holmes examined dismissals of college football head coaches from 1983 to 2006. Using a discrete-time hazard model, Holmes demonstrated that schools use prior performance in two ways: to evaluate the ability of the coach and to establish performance standards for retention. As recent performance is more relevant for estimating ability, he showed that stronger recent performances decrease the chance of dismissal but stronger historic performances increase the chance of dismissal. Results describe a continual learning process on the part of schools.  Holmes also considered the effects of race, insider-ness, rivalries, and rules violations on retention.

To the St. Louis Post-Dispatch which was covering the story of the Fighting Illini's head coach, Holmes commented, "No Big Ten football coach in the last few decades has survived as long with as poor a record as Ron Zook. The only coach with a comparably long and bad record was Ron Turner. Once Turner's record got as bad as Zook's is how, he was fired. At this point, Turner's legacy of mediocrity is one of the only things keeping Zook from being fired."

Holmes is an alumnus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.




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