Florida Atlantic University's football program made an unprecedented move recently by giving the school's cheerleading coach a second job: Director of football operations.
Heather Henderson, who has coached the cheerleading squad for the past eight years, is thought to be the only woman at an FBS school to hold the director of football operations position. Henderson has been assisting in recruiting since the school fired its previous director of football operations in December, and she will continue to coach cheerleading in a limited role.
"There is going to be a lot on her plate,” FAU coach Carl Pelini told the Palm Beach Post. "I know she can handle it. She is very organized."
In her new role, Henderson will be dealing mostly with recruiting (organizing recruits' visits and coaches' travel) as well as planning the team's travel.
Sarah Gigantino is the director of football operations at Georgia State, a school transitioning to the FBS. She said people who take on the position don't necessarily have to be interested in the Xs and Os of football.
"The DFO position as a whole is really moving off the field and moving into dealing with things coaches don’t need to deal with," Gigantino told the Palm Beach Post. "For women in that role, it's helpful. We don't necessarily have an interest in being on the field coaching."
For her part, Henderson is excited to stay on as a cheerleading coach while becoming director of football operations.
"I don’t think it's overwhelming at all right now," Henderson said. "I can do both roles."
Because Henderson will continue to help coach the cheerleading squad, her move opens a salary slot within the program. Pelini said he plans on hiring a director of player personnel to oversee recruiting.