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NCAA Pathway Program

The Pathway Program is designed to elevate those currently in senior-level positions within athletics administration to the next step as a director of athletics. This year-long program is an intensive, experiential learning opportunity for selected participants representing NCAA Divisions I, II and III.

Since its inception in 1997, the Pathway Program (formerly the Fellows Program) has produced more than 100 alumni. Nearly 25 percent of the participants have gone on to become directors of athletics, while more than 60 percent have received promotions in their careers.

Programming overview:

During the yearlong program, you as a participant identify how values fit into your philosophy and execution of leadership within college athletics and higher education. You also develop knowledge in areas such as budgeting, strategic planning and fundraising for both your current job responsibilities and while you transition to the role of director of athletics.

The Pathway Program kicks off for all divisions during a weeklong session in late June at the NCAA national office in Indianapolis. Throughout the year, program dates and locations will then cater to each division’s needs, such as participating in governance meetings and media and interview training. Skill building will take place in the areas of values clarification, leadership, media training, diversity and inclusion, and you will get an in-depth look and introduction to search firms and the hiring process within college athletics.

In addition to the in-person programming throughout the year, you will be paired with both a presidential and director of athletics mentor to assist you in navigating the year.

To wrap up the year, all participants come together and are recognized at the annual NACDA convention luncheon.

The NCAA will cover the cost of travel to and from all in-person programming, including hotel accommodations, meals during the programs and any program materials. You will also receive an honorarium to be used during the year for professional development opportunities and mentor visits.

Programming dates:

All divisions:

June 25-30, 2017: Pathway Program (Indianapolis)

Division I:

Sept. 30 - Oct. 4, 2017: Indianapolis

January 2018: Location TBD

April 2018: Location TBD

June 29-30, 2018: NACDA convention (Washington, D.C.)

Division II and Division III:

Oct. 22-25, 2017: (Los Angeles)

April 8-10, 2018: (Indianapolis)

June 29-30, 2018: NACDA convention (Washington, D.C.)


Applicants must currently be full-time employees at a NCAA membership school or conference office. It is preferred that applicants should have a minimum of eight years of combined administrative and/or coaching experience in college athletics and be serving in a senior-leadership capacity within their organizational chart.

Applicants will also have experience with staff supervision, as well as significant experience in at least two of the following areas: sport oversight (revenue sport preferred); development; fiscal and/or budget management; coaching (previous or current); senior woman administrator designation; internal operations; or external operations.

Preference will be given to applicants who have been recognized or demonstrate the ability to lead in their current professional role or through either an educational association or successful completion of a professional leadership program (e.g., NCAA/NACWAA Leadership Enhancement Institute, NACDA, MOAA, etc.)

Applicants should obtain supervisor approval to participate in the program and be able to attend all programming throughout the year.

Application process

The application timeline for the Pathway Program was altered in 2016. The application for the 2017 program will open March 2017.

Division I:

To be considered for the Division I Pathway Program, your current director of athletics must nominate you by submitting a brief note of recommendation via email at Following nomination, nominees must then complete an online application by the designated deadline. A total of 12 participants will be selected annually by a committee of Division I representatives.

Division II and Division III:

Applicants must complete an online application by the designated deadline. A total of five participants from each of the divisions will be selected annually by a committee of their division’s representatives.

Contact us

For questions regarding the Division I Pathway Program, contact Curtis J. Hollomon at or 317-917-6324. For questions regarding the Division II or Division III Pathway Program, contact Sarah Sadowski at or 317-917-6714.

Pathway Visits Boston

DI participants in Pathway Program conduct first meeting

The Pathway Program – for participants from senior-level positions at NCAA member schools, conference offices and the NCAA national office – is designed to help elevate selectees to their next career step as directors of athletics.

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“Pathway really enabled me to not only make necessary contacts, but also to know what I needed to do in my first 90 days on the job. I highly recommend the program.”
Vicky Chun
Colgate University
Vice President, Director of Athletics


“So much of what Pathway offers is beyond the career and is applicable to all facets of life in general.”
Christyn Abaray
Lawrence University
Director of Athletics


“Having access to highly-accomplished industry leaders was a wonderful experience.”
Charles Guthrie
San Francisco State University
Director of Athletics