You are here

Investing in the Future

DIII grant program brings diversity to administrative and coaching ranks

Diversity – namely, the lack of it – is a chief concern among NCAA members. Data from NCAA research show only 29 percent of Division III athletics directors are female, and a mere 6 percent are ethnic minorities. The numbers are similarly unbalanced among other administrative positions and coaches.

As the Association works to further diversify its coaching and administrative ranks, one long-standing program continues to provide opportunities to those who might otherwise be overlooked.

Since 2002, more than 200 individuals have jump-started careers thanks to the Division III Ethnic Minority and Women’s Internship Grant. The two-year grant program – along with a similar one in Division II – helps fund entry-level administrative positions at Division III schools and conferences. More than $26,000 is provided per year for each position to support salary and professional development for grant recipients. Division III awarded 20 such grants this spring for the 2016-18 academic years.

Since its inception, the program has doled out more than $8 million for salary and benefits and more than $1.2 million for professional development. The results? Grant recipients attest the opportunity launched the college athletics careers they sought, giving them a foot in the door and a chance to climb the ranks. Success stories abound; here is a small sampling:

Doug Chin

Current position: Assistant commissioner, Commonwealth Coast Conference 

Grant-funded position: Assistant to the commissioner, Great Northeast Athletic Conference (2014)

Undergraduate experience: Boston University (2010, broadcast journalism)

“The program creates a great environment for the recipients where they have a cohort of peers who are in similar situations trying to break into the business. ... I also loved that part of the grant allotted money for professional development. The ability to attend Regional Rules Seminars and CoSIDA conventions has definitely served me well in my career.”

Kelly Anderson Diercks

Current position: Associate athletics director/compliance director, Augsburg College

Grant-funded position: Assistant director, Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (2006-08)

Undergraduate experience: Gustavus Adolphus College softball (2005, business management)

“The grant program has a built-in mentoring component. My mentor taught me so much and empowered me to be a leader within our conference. Together, she and I worked with our conference office to start a female mentoring program in our conference that is in its second year.”

Sara Eisenhauer

Current position: Assistant commissioner, Upper Midwest Athletic Conference

Grant-funded position: Communications and special events coordinator, Macalester College (2011-12)

Undergraduate experience: Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota hockey (2010, public relations and electronic publishing)

“The opportunities I had to connect with other interns and network with Division III administrators from around the country helped me gain the confidence I needed to succeed and take the next steps in my career. There is nothing more valuable in this industry than being able to work on your personal and professional growth.”

Portia Hoeg

Current position: Director of athletics and recreation, Allegheny College

Grant-funded position: Marketing promotions and special events coordinator, Smith College (2002-04)

Undergraduate experience: Trinity University (Texas) basketball (2001, marketing and management)

“Learning from seasoned female administrators was a priceless experience. I learned the value of hard work and expanded my professional network in a very meaningful way. Being able to serve as a facilitator, as an intern, at the second annual NCAA National Leadership Conference was one of my most memorable moments.”

Erin Thacker

Current position: Deputy director of athletics, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

Grant-funded position: Assistant director of athletics, Colorado College (2007-09)

Undergraduate experience: University of Wisconsin-La Crosse softball (2005, fitness)

“The position was perfect because I was able to be an assistant coach of a program and have administrative responsibilities at the same time. I gained a greater understanding of how Division III programs operated from the departmental level, as well as the individual sport program level.”

About Champion

Champion magazine goes behind the headlines and beyond the scoreboards to celebrate the unique connection between Americans and college sports. Champion is published by the NCAA.

Subscribe to NCAA Champion Magazine >
Subscribe to the Podcast >