The Important Role of the Collegiate Athletic Administrator

athletic administratorAthletic administrators, also known as athletic directors, are responsible for overseeing the entirety of an organization’s athletics, including national teams and conferences as well as recreational and intramural sports in addition to coaches and staff. These professionals also manage the budgets and finances of an organization’s athletic department which may include fundraising duties.

If you’re interested in this career path, you’ll need to develop the ability to perform under pressure and be ready to accept a wide variety of responsibilities. The scope of your job would vary greatly depending on the size of an organization’s athletics department.

Athletic administrators at some universities may be responsible for over 20 National Collegiate Athletic Administration (NCAA) teams at a time in addition to club and intramural teams. The coaching staff of an NCAA Division I football team alone may include two head coaches, assistant coaches and defensive and offensive coordinators.

Furthermore, if the university is an NCAA participant, it is the athletic administrator’s responsibility to ensure their organization adheres to the regulations and standards put forth by the NCAA. Should an athlete or member of the coaching staff violate these rules, the athletic administrator is responsible for investigating and resolving the issue in an efficient and timely manner.

As an athletic administrator, however, you certainly aren’t limited to the collegiate atmosphere. You can also work with high schools, elementary schools and other private institutions with athletic departments. No matter where your career takes you, the skills required of an athletic administrator and the path you choose to obtain these skills can make an impact in your salary potential and overall career growth.

Athletic Administrator Skills


Because a significant part of the athletic administrator career is to manage coaching staff, leadership skills for this role are a must. Maintaining a department of well-rounded, ethical and reputable coaches requires management expertise.


This role also necessitates a strong understanding of finance to maintain a balanced budget for the department. It’s not just tournaments and coaching salaries that athletic administrators need to consider. Ensuring sports teams have the proper facilities and equipment to play all falls under the management of the athletic administrator.

College athletics have long been a controversial money-maker for universities, and athletic administrators should be well-equipped to handle what could be a multimillion dollar operation. This means more than being financially savvy. The athletic administrator job requires strong marketing and public relations skills in order to weather any controversies the university may face in regards to its athletic department.

Marketing & PR

Marketing and PR expertise is also highly valuable for fundraising purposes, especially for private, non-profit universities who rely on their alumni and fanbase to help fund new fields, courts, stadiums and student scholarships.

Some other key skills for an athletic administrator include market analysis, budget preparation and business management are some of the most important skills required of the athletic administrator job.

Athletic Administrator Job Education Requirements

Nearly all athletic administrator jobs require a bachelor’s degree in sport management or a related field, and a master’s degree can be quite valuable for an athletic directors’ career development.

For example, a master’s degree in sport management teaches you how to conduct meaningful research, giving you a framework to understand qualitative and quantitative results related to leadership development, management practices, organization performance and more.

This degree also helps you understand how to set and reach measurable goals for athletic department employees, how to utilize current sport management technology and software, and how to develop more effective sport marketing strategies.

Some master’s programs, like Adelphi University’s online Master of Science in Sport Management, offer a specialization in collegiate athletic administration. In addition to core courses in sport management, this option allows you to take coursework specific to the athletic administrator career, including classes in intramural and recreational management, sport facility and event management, sport communication and media relations and sport law.

A specialization like this paired with experienced faculty and a strong alumni network who help students gain hands-on experience all lead to an excellent credential for an athletic administrator career.

Athletic Administrator Job Outlook and Salary

Postsecondary education administrators, which include many athletic administrator jobs, make an average annual salary of $94,340 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

While earning potential varies considerably based on the environment they’re employed, some athletic directors, especially those working at schools with high-grossing athletic departments, make over $1 million per year. If nothing else, this shows just how varied the athletic administrator job outlook can be.

Regardless, the BLS contends that the athletic administrator job outlook is contingent on the number of students enrolled in the school and is growing faster than the national average.

No matter how reputable a school’s athletic department is, athletic administrators must be able to work well under pressure and maintain a level head in stressful situations to succeed in their careers, and a sport management master’s degree is an optimal route to preparing for these challenges.

Adelphi University’s Online Master of Science in Sport Management

Leadership skills are paramount in the field of sport–both on and off the field. The Adelphi online Master of Science in Sport Management is designed for confident, hard-working, ambitious individuals with a passion for sports. The program offers two specializations in athletic administration and sport marketing, empowering students to elevate sport organizations and their brands.

Explore the professional word of sports and the complex concepts that define it in mass media, sales, marketing, public relations and emergent technologies. Get the premier education you need to thrive in the business of sport in as a few was 24 months, and benefit from connections with alumni who work for renowned sports teams and organizations.

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