Editor’s Note: John T. Weatherly has helped with conditioning programs and research at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Weatherly began his NSCA muckraking with a two-part series on unreliable NSCA vibration research. Now Weatherly’s taking a look at the NSCA’s education program.
As the worldwide authority on strength and conditioning, we support and disseminate research-based knowledge and its practical application to improve athletic performance and fitness.
Note the word support in the above.
The NSCA Education Program (ERP) recognizes accredited academic institutions for their educational programs that have met, and continue to meet, educational guidelines recommended by the NSCA. ERP recognitions are good for three years and schools are eligible for renewal following this three year period.
As can be seen, there are three different ERP choices for schools. They are strength and conditioning, graduate studies, and personal training. Pay attention to the benefits of $25 off certification fees and $25 given to each academic department for every student that registers to take one of the certification tests. Other noteworthy benefits are marketing each ERP school on the NSCA website and NSCA Bulletin along with three free career postings on nsca.com. Additionally, note the newest perk of Exam Prep Live to sell review courses to students preparing to take the CSCS and/or NSCA-CPT exams:
Not only does this provide students an added opportunity to prepare for the NSCA exams, but this also provides a revenue opportunity to the hosting school.
Click the apply button and you will see there is a $500 fee schools must pay to the NSCA to be considered for inclusion in the ERP.
The NSCA’s Certification Czar’s University is not in the ERP
The main man behind the NSCA certifications is Dr. Thomas R. Baechle. Dr. Baechle has been at Creighton since the late 70’s and early 80’s when Creighton received a national black eye by cheating a reserve basketball player through school even though the player was functionally illiterate.
The joke I heard about the Creighton starting five during the Kevin Ross era was their autographs were xxxxx. They couldn’t write their names. Kevin Ross was a reserve player. He didn’t know how to make an x. This is just an example of how low some of these so-called institutions of higher learning can stoop.
Anyway, here’s Dr. Baechle the Certification Czar and the NSCA charges a $500 fee for schools to be in the ERP, markets and sells Baechle’s babies (the CSCS and NSCA-CPT). Baechle’s own university (he’s the Department Head) does not even support the ERP by being in it. Look for the listing of Creighton University in the recognized ERP schools.
You won’t see Creighton University.
Current NSCA President Dr. Steve Fleck
Dr. Steve Fleck’s reign as NSCA President is about over. Did Fleck support the NSCA’s ERP at the schools he’s been at? Check for Colorado College and the U of Wisconsin-Parkside. You won’t find these schools listed anywhere in the ERP. The current NSCA President doesn’t support the ERP.
JSCR Editor-In-Chief Dr. William Kraemer
Legendary NSCA super-scientist, former NSCA President, and JSCR Editor-In-Chief Dr. Kraemer is a name that should be familiar to the CrossFit community. Dr. Kraemer surely must have supported the ERP at his most recent (U of Connecticut) and current university Ohio State – right? Ohio State and the U of Connecticut are not in the ERP either.
A Unique (Lonely) Program in the United States
A one-of-a-kind educational program in the United States that integrates academic and athletic departments is the Center of Excellence at East Tennessee State University (ETSU). They are also a designated USOC Training Site for Weightlifting and several other sports. See sportscienceed.com for an overview of what they do. This is the brainchild of the prolific sport scientist, former USOC Head of Sports Physiology Dr. Mike Stone, and his wife, a former Olympian and the first woman strength and conditioning coach at a university in the US, Meg who is the Director of the Center of Excellence.
Dr. Stone recently confirmed to me that as far as he knew they were the only university in the US like this. They are also the only university in the US with a PhD program in sport science. Now, think about this: At this place you will see PhD students in the weight room actually doing power snatches, squats etc. They also work hands-on as strength and conditioning coaches/sport scientists with the athletic teams. Unlike other exercise scientists, they aren’t just a bunch of geeks in a lab that don’t know how to squat and don’t work with athletes.
I asked Dr. Stone with this unique program why they weren’t listed in the ERP? His reason was the $500 fee. Here’s an educational program that leads the country and to be an NSCA ERP they would have to pay the NSCA $500. It doesn’t make any sense at all. The nation’s only integrated sport science and coaching education program at a university doesn’t think the NSCA’s ERP is even worth $500!
What is the ERP selling?
An ERP school must have a CSCS who is employed at the school to be in the strength and conditioning program, the graduate studies program, and either a CSCS or NSCA-CPT to be in the personal training program. Remember, unlike CrossFit L3, NSCA certifications do not require any actual performance of exercises or technique competency. Thus, it is possible to be able to pass the NSCA certifications and not be able to teach or do a squat. Dr. Lon Kilgore has a series of articles demonstrating the NSCA can’t even agree on how to perform a squat: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.
A college strength and conditioning coach at Notre Dame, Craig Cheek, has said on social media that most people calling themselves sport scientists or ERP teachers “aren’t real coaches.”
This same Notre Dame strength and conditioning coach has said that the ERP is about $!
Jason Roe, an instructor of the NSCA ERP at Carroll University, didn’t have any data about how successful his ERP was in producing students meaningfully employed in the strength and conditioning/exercise field.
Why wouldn’t NSCA ERP schools have data and track how successful their students are in the exercise field? Do they have something to hide?
They must. Legendary NSCA super-scientist Dr. William Kraemer told me while he was at UConn that they were advising their students to look at areas besides exercise such as selling insurance. Of course, Dr. Kraemer’s recent (U of Connecticut) and current (Ohio St) schools are not in the ERP so this wouldn’t actually count against the ERP.
Worldwide Authority and Support?
In this article, I demonstrated NSCA leaders don’t even support the NSCA’s ERP at their own schools. This includes NSCA Certification Czar Dr. Tom Baechle, current NSCA President Dr. Steve Fleck, and JSCR Editor-in-Chief Dr. William Kraemer. None of these NSCA leaders believe in the ERP enough to have their own schools involved. The worldwide authority on strength and conditioning can’t even get three of its most prominent leaders to support the ERP.
“The NSCA’s Lead Sponsor for Education/Research programs is MusclePharm”
The NSCA’s entire ERP is ignored by these leaders and their institutions. And the NSCA sponsor for its educational programs is Musclepharm, a company sued not just for mislabeling its protein content, but also for lying about its products’ certifications. This supplement company used NSF certification marks on its products and ads without authorization. NSF had to clarify on its website that
Any MusclePharm products bearing NSF marks, or claims of NSF certification or claims of being manufactured in an NSF certified or registered facility are not approved or certified by NSF International.
This is the company that the NSCA chose to fund its educational program.
And these NSCA people think they are the ones to regulate or control the strength and conditioning/personal training field?
About the Author: John T. Weatherly has undergraduate and graduate degrees in exercise science. He was a research assistant to the former Head of Sports Physiology for the US Olympic Committee (USOC) and has helped with conditioning programs for athletes in Olympic sports as well as professional baseball, college football, and an NBA player. In the 90’s, John published and reviewed articles for the NSCA and was an NSCA media contact on the sport of baseball. He helped initiate the first study on a rotary inertia exercise device at the University of Southern California (USC) and has consulted with the exercise industry on various topics, including vibration.