Working as an interscholastic athletic director provides opportunities that many sports enthusiasts dream about — the chance to meld business skills and a love of athletics to cultivate the athletic abilities of middle and high school students.
Just a few decades ago, the primary job of interscholastic athletics directors and administrators was limited to scheduling transportation and purchasing equipment. Modern athletic directors and administrators focus on student health, risk management, coach education, ethical considerations, sound training principles, and conduct codes in addition to administrative and leadership duties.
The National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) said athletic administrators play a vital role in coordinating interscholastic athletic activities with the regular school curriculum for a well-rounded experience.
“An athletic administrator has the responsibility to provide positive direction to the athletic program, and thus should be a visionary who leads and does more than simply manage,” the NIAAA said in its “A Profile of Athletic Administration” research document.
An advanced degree, such as a master’s in athletic administration (MAA), provides opportunities to learn effective skills for managing and leading within the expanding role of interscholastic athletic directors. When determining what to do with a sports management degree, it is essential to learn how to become an athletic director and how having an MAA degree helps develop a valuable athletic program. A master’s in athletic administration online degree allows athletic directors to gain these skills with the flexibility of completing coursework in conjunction with everyday life.
Benefits of Having an MAA Degree for Athletic Directors
Athletic directors who have the training for the position are best suited to develop successful interscholastic athletic programs. An MAA degree can teach a sports enthusiast how to become an athletic director and gain the many benefits of the position. Some of the advantages of having an MAA degree include:
- Positively impacting young lives
Interscholastic athletic directors shape the lives of young people by providing them with opportunities to prepare for the future. The job of the athletic director is to promote teamwork, collaboration, academic achievement, leadership skills, and positive character traits, among other things. However, none of this critical work is done in a vacuum. An athletic director’s successes depend on having a solid educational background and an excellent support staff all working together toward a similar goal.
The New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association (NHIAA) also said the work of athletic directors is to provide the proper guidance and direction for student athletics programs.
“Their leadership sets the tone of good sportsmanship and respect within the programs in which coaches and athletes participate,” the NHIAA said. “They have the authority to hire coaches that reinforce proper value systems.”
- Working on the cutting edge of the discipline
In their foundational research titled, “Recommended educational experiences for high school athletic directors (ADs),” Robert Schneider and William Stier Jr. said athletic directors are expected to be innovators in interscholastic sports administration, always looking for new ways to advance interscholastic sports. The researchers said the first master’s level sports management program in the United States, at Ohio University in 1966, provided the bedrock for what has become today’s interscholastic athletic director. MAA-educated athletic directors have an advantage over other athletic directors because they have studied under the best and brightest in the field, the researchers said.
“The position of athletic director in our high schools is just too important and too complicated to be assumed by someone who lacks formal education and training in management, administration, and supervision of competitive sports programs,” the researchers said in the 2001 study. “Today, it is almost universally recognized that it is very important to have as an athletic director an individual who is an expert in the administration of sports programs.”
Indeed, modern research also shows that higher education is crucial to developing well-rounded interscholastic athletic directors. A study of nearly 150 high school principals and athletic directors in Washington state found an academic background in law, ethics, budgeting, and finance to be essential to the role of athletic director.
- Having Ample Opportunities for Career Advancement
Interscholastic athletic directors are school administrators who oversee sports programs. As such, they work in supervisory roles to manage staff, budgets, and student outcomes. In addition, they collaborate with school principals, district administrators, and school boards.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which classifies interscholastic athletic directors as education administrators, found the average salary nationwide for the role is $88,240.
At the same time, Payscale.com found the average total compensation for athletic directors is based on years of experience. The company used replies to its questionnaires and data algorithms to determine the salary range:
- Up to 5 years experience – $49,000
- 5 to 10 years experience – $59,000
- 10 to 20 years experience – $67,000
- More than 20 years experience – $78,000
The BLS said the growth rate for education administrators is about 6 percent in the coming decade.
Other Reasons Why an MAA Degree Makes a Difference
In addition, earning an MAA degree provides learning opportunities that budding athletic directors may not ordinarily have. On average, MAA coursework focuses on combining sports, marketing, and business information.
At Ohio University, the master’s in athletic administration online program curriculum also focuses on ethics, legal foundations, human resources, and leadership to create well-rounded graduates who are prepared to work in interscholastic settings.
About Ohio University’s Master of Athletic Administration (MAA) program
Ohio University’s MAA program is designed for interscholastic athletic professionals and others (including athletic administrators and coaches) seeking to advance their careers as interscholastic athletic directors and manage successful athletic departments.
A leader in sports education, Ohio University launched the nation’s first academic program in sports administration. The program works in collaboration with the NIAAA to prepare graduates for certification and is accredited by the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA). For more information, contact Ohio University’s MAA program representatives now.
A Profile of Athletic Administration: NIAAA.org
Coaches & Administrators: Life of an Athlete
Recommended Educational Experiences for High School Athletic Directors: Digital Commons
Career and Educational Experiences of High School Athletic Directors: A Multi-level Perspective: The Sport Journal
Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2017: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Athletic Director Salary: Payscale.com