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Dr. Charles Whitcomb Leadership Institute

The Dr. Charles Whitcomb Leadership Institute provides tailored programming to assist ethnic minorities in strategically mapping and planning their careers in athletics administration by providing professional development programming over the course of a calendar year, which includes one-week programs at the beginning and conclusion of that year.

Key Dates
  • Jan. 20, 2020: Application opens (8:00 a.m. Eastern Time)
  • Feb. 17, 2020: Application closes (Noon Eastern Time)
  • Week of March 27, 2020: Participants notified
  • July 11-18, 2020: Program Dates (Dallas, TX)

Combining in-person sessions, continuing education resources and the well-connected alumni group, participants not only enhance and master skillsets pertinent to their success in their current roles, they also explore and plan to achieve future career aspirations. With a successful track record in producing the most influential leaders in college sports, the Leadership Institute provides participants with a transformational and empowering experience that will define their careers for decades.

What You’ll Learn

The Leadership Institute remains a marquee offering from leadership development due to its impactful curriculum combined with its resonant cohort model, which truly is the secret ingredient behind the vast successes of the program’s alumni. With a cohort of 18 individuals eager to invest in themselves to continue to affect change across college sports, the vulnerable atmosphere and shared process you encounter with your cohort will breed familial connections within your institute class. You will leave the program with 17 new avid supporters, willing to push you to realize your strongest ambitions within the industry.

Year one

As a first-year participant, you will begin with a week of activities and key learning focused on exploring your career aspirations and enhancing essential skills. You will spend time exploring goals, clarifying values and looking closer at your behavioral styles, as well as those of your peers. You will engage in eye-opening exercises and discussions that will improve your self-awareness and confidence vital to your continued development personally and professionally.

You and a group of your peers will be tasked with an intensive budget activity, allowing you to engage fellow participants and refine practical problem-solving skills. The culmination of your case study will challenge you to present strategic plans and defend decisions.

Through engagement with best-in-class consultants, impactful speakers and talented industry peers, you will gain knowledge in a variety of areas, including: the unique challenges of minority leadership within college athletics, student-athlete welfare issues, strategic planning, budget management, fundraising, compliance, human resources and performance management within the organization.

Year two:

After a year in the program, you will reconvene with your Leadership Institute class and continue to explore your goals, values and behavioral styles, gain feedback from your colleagues, and continue to expand your knowledge of student-athlete health and welfare. Additionally, you will be assigned an intensive case study activity to hone your skills in collaboration, effective communication and the development of a capital campaign.

Your second year will center around in-depth personality and leadership assessments that will provide you with valuable insight into your strengths and areas of improvement. With the involved guidance of a consultant, you will dissect your assessment results and walk away with tangible applications for your self-reflection.

Your experience will culminate with a recognition ceremony to celebrate your journey throughout the program. As a new member of the Leadership Institute alumni, you will be embraced by a family of former participants eager to continue to support and challenge you to achieve your potential.

Who is eligible

Applicants for the Leadership Institute must currently be a full-time employee at an NCAA membership school or conference office.

Preference will be given to applicants who meet as many of the following qualifications as possible:

  • Have a minimum of three years of combined administrative and/or coaching experience within college athletics.
  • Serve in a mid- to senior-level leadership capacity within their organizational chart at the associate level or above (consideration is given to varying organizational structures).
  • Experience with staff supervision, sport oversight, development, budget management, coaching, internal operations or external operations.
  • Ability to contribute to, and advise, unit leaders and/or executive staff, both within the athletics department and at the national level.
  • Have diverse college athletics work experience and demonstrated ability to lead in their current work role or educational association or have previously successful completion of a professional leadership program (e.g., Women Leaders in College Sports, NACDA, MOAA).
  • Demonstrate skills and experience in at least two of the following areas:
    • University, conference and NCAA administration.
    • Strategic planning.
    • Budget management.
    • Fundraising.
    • University and NCAA compliance.
    • Student-athlete welfare issues and initiatives.
    • Diversity and inclusion issues and initiatives.
    • Human resources and performance management within an organization.

Due to the intensive nature of the program, a letter of recommendation from a current supervisor or director of athletics is also required as a part of the application process.


The NCAA will arrange for and cover the cost of hotel accommodations, meals and any program materials during the program. Attendees are responsible for airfare to and from the program, along with expenses incurred during travel.

How to apply

The online application for the Dr. Charles Whitcomb Leadership Institute is available via the NCAA Program Hub.


For more information about the Dr. Charles Whitcomb Leadership Institute, please contact

Participants in the 2015 NCAA Leadership Institute in Washington explain how the program assists their careers in college athletics administration.