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So you want to be an AD

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You enjoy working with young people, you enjoy being on a college campus and you are energized by the competitive aspect of sports. What’s not to like?

Your challenge is in the numbers. There are only about 1,100 NCAA athletics directors in all three divisions. If you have a fondness for Division II, there are about 300 member schools– and positions are available at only a few of them at any given moment. To acquire one of those jobs, you will need a strategy and major preparation. To retain your position and to grow, you will rely on vision, resolve, knowledge and a lot of hard work.

This workbook should aid anybody who wants to become an AD. However, the focus is more specific than that. This workbook is directed toward the development of Division II athletics directors. More specifically, it is meant to helpcurrent Division II assistant and associate athletics directors take the next step in their careers.

Division II leaders have noted a trend as athletics directors positions have been filled recently. Although Division II assis­tant and associate athletics directors have pursued vacant AD positions, in several recent cases the successful candidates have been Division I associate athletics directors – usually individuals with meaningful fundraising experience.

There’s nothing wrong with that, either with Division II insti­tutions turning to Division I administrators or with successful candidates having worked in Division I. But while occasional mi­gration from Division I isn’t necessarily a problem, there may be a concern with it becoming standard practice. Administrators who are grounded in Division II purpose should be able to prosper at Division II institutions without taking a philosophical detour.

Foreword: Barbara Schroeder

During the 15 years I served as a Division II athletics director, I had the opportunity to mentor and offer guidance to many young administrators who aspired to become athletics directors.

This responsibility was most important when I was in the position of guiding and preparing an associate athletics director at my own institution, Regis University in Colorado. This task was one that I accepted knowing full well it would demand con­siderable time and energy from me and the associate if we were to gain the results we wanted. 

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If you are a Division II assistant or associate AD, you prob­ably have a specific task – for example, rules compliance or communications – without much assistance. If you are the sports information director, you may not have given much thought to compliance, ticket management or drug-testing policies. If you are the compliance person, you may be defi­cient in promotional skills or how to relate with media.

It’s understandable, but those deficiencies hinder your quest to fill one of the few positions that come available each year.

You must be able to set yourself apart by demonstrating a broad skill set, and you especially must be able to present business or fundraising experience.

This book can help you broaden your knowledge. It contains 13 chapters that touch all of the major components of being an athletics director. Nothing can prepare you for every even­tuality, but this book draws from the collective wisdom found in three years of the Division II athletics director mentoring program. Not only does it reflect the knowledge of the men­tors, but also it is framed by the experiences of the mentees, several of whom have earned athletics directors’ positions.

There’s an abundance of information in this book, enough that a printed version was not possible or desirable. Chapters on institutional control, rules compliance and student-athlete welfare alone total about 750 pages. The idea is not to make you an expert on a particular compliance manual, but rather for you to see how topics are treated in a good manual and how the information is organized. It is not intended to serve as a rules compliance resource; rules-related questions should always be channeled through your institutional, conference or NCAA compliance operations. NCAA bylaws change often, and the examples contained in this workbook may be dated.

Foreword: Kathleen Brasfield

Kathleen Brasfield

I retired in 2012 after a long career as a Division II athletics director at Angelo State University. Despite all that experience, I did not realize until I began my post-retire­ment assignments with the NCAA and the DII ADA Mentoring Program for Women and Minorities how helpful it would be to have a “road map” of things athletics direc­tors need to know.

As experienced Division II athletics directors, we have an obligation to encourage our promising young administrators to stay in Division II, to offer experiences that develop their skills to become successful athletics directors and to encourage Division II institutions to give those administrators opportunities to advance. 

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If you make a commitment to understand the range of athletics director responsibilities, your chances of impressing a search committee will improve. But you also should take control of cir­cumstances where experience is there for the taking. If your AD traditionally has handled fundraising for the booster club, ask him if you can handle it this year. If the AD has always headed up the annual summer golf fundraiser, ask her if you can fill that role. You’ll broaden your knowledge, strengthen your resume and please the boss. A little initiative can go a long way!

You also should be seeking personnel supervision opportu­nities. That’s a major part of the AD’s role, and any search committee is going to be partial to individuals who have con­ducted effective performance reviews, administered work-im­provement plans and conducted job searches themselves. Find opportunities in this area, even if they are limited.

Finally, take advantage of developmental programs offered through organizations such as the NCAA, National Associa­tion of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators (NACWAA), Minority Opportunities Athletic Association (MOAA), and others. Most of them are quite good, and partic­ipants often emerge better prepared to advance their careers.

Even if you touch all those bases, you might still need a little luck to get the position you’re seeking. But you know the saying about luck: It’s when preparation meets opportunity.

Congratulations on beginning your journey. You’ll be better for the effort.