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So you want to be an AD

A vision should describe what you want your athletics program to become. You'll need a plan to realize your vision, of course, but the vision should be the pole star that points you to where you want to be.

You probably have a vision of some sort as you pursue an AD position, but have you given it as much thought as you should? If you land the job, your vision will determine the personnel you surround yourself with, what kind of student-athletes you recruit, your program's commitment to playing by the rules and the willingness to attend to the educational and social needs of your student-athletes.

A vision cannot be vague. Once you are sitting in the AD chair, you should be able to describe clearly to your president and board exactly where you expect the program to be in one year, three years and five years. As the leader, it's then up to you to develop the make sure that everybody understands them and to have firm timetables in place. If your president came to you and said, "What would you do with an extra $100,000?" make sure you are ready with an answer.

And if you are not already familiar with strategic-planning practices, take advantage of the many excellent online and in-person classes that are available. All the vision in the world is useless without the framework that comes from a plan.

Finally, at all times, your vision must reflect the vision of the overall institution. That means constant, meaningful conversations with the president, governing board members and the person to whom you report. Athletics programs can drift from the overall institution without effective leadership and vision, and once you become an athletics director, it's your job to maintain and strengthen the bond between the two.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • How would you arrive at the vision for the program you are seeking to lead?
  • Do you have the communication and persuasive skills to have others understand and support your vision?
  • Do you have the skills you need to develop and implement detailed plans?
  • Do you have the discipline to hold personnel accountable for responsibilities identified within a planning timetable?
  • How can you ensure that the vision for your athletics program is aligned with the vision for the overall institution?