Athletic directors are the chief administrators of athletic programs. Whether overseeing high school or big-time college sports programs, athletic directors wear several hats. However, the most important part of an athletic director's job is being in charge. No matter how popular a single-coach or particular team, the AD has the final say. They are the CEOs of sports programs.
It's no coincidence that athletic directors at major colleges often have a background in communications. Athletic directors must communicate with coaches, athletes, parents, boosters, administrators and the media. They communicate the vision for the athletic department. If the football coach is arrested, it's the athletic director who gets the call from sportswriters seeking answers. If she is an AD at a large college, she makes regular TV and radio appearances. She may need to convince the president of the university that the swim team needs a new multi-million dollar facility, despite its dismal record.
Chief Financial Officer
Athletic programs cost and generate money. Even if an athletic program has a vice president overseeing finances, the AD is responsible for how funds are allocated. They must juggle the demands of revenue-generating sports, such as football and basketball, with programs that lose money. College ADs also have to adhere to strict guidelines set forth by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which governs major college sports. A payment as seemingly as innocent as $30 given to a college linebacker could violate NCAA rules and cost the university millions.
Chief Sports Coordinator
Scheduling teams and using various facilities are essential in sports. This includes deciding which teams play where and against whom. Sometimes athletic directors cut deals with other ADs to secure more home games. More home games mean more ticket and concessions sales. An athletic director at a small college with a tight budget often negotiates a game on the road against a large, profitable school in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars. High school athletic directors tackle budget restraints placed by school boards.
Perhaps the most fun part about being in charge is that the athletic director speaks on behalf of all the school's sports programs. They promote the programs to college presidents or high school principals. They attend games and travel with teams. They cheer on the losing lacrosse team with the same enthusiasm as the winning football team. They become known in the community, and you often see them wearing their school's colors. Because success is measured by wins and earnings, an AD is usually an athletic department's biggest cheerleader.
- MLive: Job of High School Athletic Directors Evolving into Multiple Duties, Resulting in Increased Burnout and Turnover
- The Sport Journal: Necessary Education for the Success of Athletics Directors: NCAA Presidents' Perceptions
- Sports Business Daily: Communication Key for ADs, Our Newest Information Tools
ML Corbett covers interior design, real estate and small business, among other topics. A former day spa owner and marketing manager for an international fragrance company, Corbett knows the ins and outs of the beauty industry. Her work has appeared in "Essence," "Black Enterprise" and on HGTVGardens.com.