Though highly popular, degree-level sports coaching qualifications are in their infancy, and it remains that ‘an individual intending to become an accredited coaching practitioner can only do so by undertaking their sport's national governing body (NGB) coaching award(s)’ [Nelson et al., 2006, p. 254. Formal, nonformal and informal coach learning: A holistic conceptualisation. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 1(3), 247–259]. Consequently, little is known about the development of HE sports coaching students’ employability. This study critically investigates sports coaching students’ degree-study motives, development of employability skills and perceptions of career prospects as graduates. Survey data and follow-up interviews from two U.K. post-92 universities reveal tensions between liberal and vocational philosophies of university education and concerns about the graduate labour market. Critical incidents and missed opportunities in students’ development of key skills for coaching during and outside of university are also discussed.