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Collegiate Athletic Director- Job Overview
The athletic director (AD) for a college or university has a crucial role in the athletics department for the establishment for which he or she works. This individual serves as an administrative bridge between the establishment and the coaches. The AD is:
“the head and supervisor of all coaches and trainers at higher educational facilities,” (Super Scholar).
The main purpose of the job is to serve the administrative functions within the athletics department instead of academics or strictly athletics. The athletic director does not, therefore, have to come from a sports background as their job is more centered on the administrative functions and is not directly engaging in sports.
Responsibilities of an athletic director
The major responsibilities for the Athletic Director vary from school to school, however almost all AD’s have some common responsibilities:
- Provides guidance as well as direction to the athletic department
- As the top-level management within the department, the AD has to have a plan that covers such aspects as budget (from the amount a particular team can spend annually, to coaches’ salaries, to even facility upkeep)
- Scheduling of team practices and events as well as the use of other athletic facilities for events
- Ensuring that student athletes have and maintain their eligibility for particular sports and dealing with any physical or psychological issues encountered by athletes (Angst)
This presents some very interesting aspects to the job as the AD of an institution gets to be directly involved with all of the school’s sporting teams and events. This allows the AD to see where the successes and shortcomings of particular events and teams lie. They are then able to compile suggestions, recommendations, and even direct requests to maximize the efficiency of the athletic department.
Educational background of an athletic director
The process of becoming an institution’s athletic director usually involves several important steps. First, it is important that have an educational background that shows commitment to the field. Choosing the correct college major is critical. Having a bachelor’s degree in the field such as athletic administration or management is a good starting point for a potential AD candidate, however many institutions require the applicant to have a master’s degree as well (Diploma Guide). Some other potential areas of degree that help an applicant are:
“a bachelor’s degree in education, physical education, or related field before completing a master’s degree in education administration or perhaps sports management,” (Angst).
Additionally, there is an element of work experience that is crucial to becoming a collegiate AD. Many who obtain this job have started out as either coaches on the collegiate level or AD’s for the high school level.
- By working as a coach, a candidate will become familiar with the workings of the AD indirectly, but will gain valuable skills with dealing directly with athletes that an AD must also possess.
- By being an AD for a high school, the candidate will get the experience of holding the job on a smaller scale, acting as sort of test, before assuming the role on the collegiate level.
Required skills of an athletic director
To handle all of the responsibilities of an AD, an individual must possess a certain set of skills that go beyond just educational training and work experience. According to Dr. David Hoch, the three most important skills that an AD should have are:
1. Organization–Because the AD has to deal with all of the workings of the athletics department, it is essential that that person be well organized. At any point, the AD must be able to find such items as rules and regulations for a sport or the budget breakdown of the department or something as basic as the practice schedule for a particular team. Without great organizational skills, the AD would be easily overwhelmed by the job’s responsibilities.
2. Integrity–An AD must be a person that will be able to be both just and unbiased. They represent the institution for the athletics department and must act accordingly. As well noted by Dr. Hoch:
“there will always be times when he will be called upon to enforce polices that are neither popular nor easy to do but are still the absolute right thing to do” (Hoch).
3. The ability to communicate efficiently–As the position can deal with a wide variety of society (coaches, school officials and administrators, athletes, parents, teachers, and members of the community), communication is of the highest importance and the AD must effectively ensure that their audience understands the aims of the program as well as its policies and expectations. The AD must be able to be both compassionate to the concerns of those he or she deals while still relaying the stance that the department has chosen to take on certain issues.
The earnings of an Athletic Director can vary depending on the institution for which the individual works, but generally an AD is compensated very well. Considering the amount of responsibilities that the typical AD is faced with, the compensation is well earned. According to salary.com:
“the median expected salary for a typical Athletics Director in the United States is $100,410,” the statistics coming from “thousands of HR departments at employers of all sizes, industries, and geographies,” (salary.com).
The breakdown of the salaries of AD’s in the nation is divided into the bottom 10th, 25th, 75th, and 90th percent of annual earnings. The base amount that an AD earns, based on these statistics, is around $56,723 annually and can be as high as $169,528 annually.
Further challenges to an athletic director
The type of person that is best fit to be an athletic director at the collegiate level has to have even more than just the educational background and the personality skills to complete the functions of the job. The person must also have to be ready to meet several challenges that go beyond the basic job description. For example, an AD must be able to navigate the delicate political workings of the institution by whom they are employed. This could mean that the individual must realize how to deal with coaches as well as school administrators when dealing with certain issues. Some sporting teams may have long standing conflicts between them that must be dealt with appropriately. This can lead the AD to react to the effects of a high level of media scrutiny creating public prejudice, as they are viewed by the public as the person who is in charge of the working relations between the school’s athletics and the general public. On a more job related level, the AD must be ready for a constantly shifting environment. Rules, personal, and other things can be dramatically changed in the athletics world and the AD must be ready to meet these changes head on.
A collegiate athletic director serves a critical role for the school’s athletics department. Though they do not always receive the same recognition as the coaches within the department, their function is just as, if not more important. Without this position, coordination between the school, as well as with other institutions, would be chaotic and almost impossible. The AD keeps the balance and order within the department and must be filled by an individual that has the necessary skills and training to deal with all of the possible scenarios that could arise.
Angst, Frank. “Athletic Director Job Profile.” About.com. n.d. n. page. Web. 4 Dec. 2012. .
“Athletics Director- Higher Ed. Salary.” Salary.com. 2012: n. page. Web. 4 Dec. 2012. .
“College Athletic Director.” Super Scholar. 2012: n. page. Web. 4 Dec. 2012. .
Hoch, David. “The Three Most Important AD Qualities.” Coach and Athletic Director. 2012: n. page. Web. 4 Dec. 2012. .
“Pros and Cons in a Career as an Athletic Director.” Diploma Guide. 2012: n. page. Web. 4 Dec. 2012. .