NIAAA Certification and What it Entails

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The National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) was established in 1977 in Elgin, IL to promote, preserve, and support athletic administrators in our nation’s middle and high schools.

Soccer coach talking with female players on the field

The NIAAA would not enjoy the status it has today if not for Frank Kovaleski. The NIAAA inducted Kovaleski into its Hall of Fame in 2015. Kovaleski spent 16 years as both a coach and an athletic director before becoming active with the NIAAA full-time, according to’s, “NIAAA To Induct 12 Into Hall Of Fame And Honor 12 Others In Orlando.”

Kovaleski contributed to the athletic administrator career field by developing the NIAAA Leadership Training Program (now called the Leadership Training Institute) and expanding the NIAAA certification program. He was even responsible for the NIAAA forming an arrangement with Ohio University to offer a Master’s Degree in Athletic Administration.

The benefits of the Leadership Training Institute that Kovaleski helped develop (as detailed in the institute’s course descriptions on include programs that maximize student opportunities, provide access to fundraising and grant programs, assist with community outreach, and recognize those who work in the athletic administration field.

Benefits Of NIAAA Certification

The NIAAA promotes and fosters the Athletics Administration profession through opportunities for continuing education, professional growth, and program development.

“The NIAAA champions the profession of administering athletic programs in our nation’s high schools and middle schools. No other body values promotes, preserves, supports, and stands ready to uplift the cause of the athletic administrator, as does the NIAAA,” according to “Why the NIAAA” on

Membership in the NIAAA grants insurance benefits, such as liability and term life insurance. Other benefits include a subscription to the Interscholastic Athletic Administration quarterly periodical, the option to purchase long-term healthcare policies at discounted rates, access to support materials, and the opportunity to serve on national committees.

The NIAAA offers certification levels for a number of different roles in the athletic administration industry:

• Registered Athletic Administrator
• Registered Middle School Athletic Administrator
• Professional Certified Athletic Administrator Certificate
• Certified Athletic Administrator
• Certified Master Athletic Administrator

Two, in particular, the Registered and Certified Athletic Administrators (RAA and CAA), are especially useful to newly minted athletic directors graduating with their Master’s in Athletic Administration.

Each level requires forms and prerequisites that must be completed before certification is granted. Fees are paid annually and differ for certifications, ranging from $75 for an NIAAA member’s RAA certification to $260 for non-NIAAA member Certified Master Athletic Administrators.

The NIAAA Certification Process

Athletic administrators who demonstrate the life-long value of a sports education in middle and high schools can apply for certification by NIAAA.

Athletics, according to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, teaches students important values for life skills, include “teamwork, sportsmanship and citizenship, respect for self and others, caring, dedication, commitment, trustworthiness, loyalty, responsibility, integrity, fairness, and doing ones’ best regardless of the outcome.”

Maintaining these standards of sports education requires the organization of goals and means to achieving those goals, which the NIAAA provides.

Athletic administrators pursuing NIAAA certification must accomplish several things first, according to the “NIAAA Certification Process” on They are:

1. A completed profile on the online community.
2. An application that includes educational and experience background information pertaining to athletic administration. The application must be completed and approved by the certification committee before the applicant moves forward.
3. The successful completion of the required written examination.

Athletic directors have the option of paying for NIAAA membership either before or after certification. NIAAA members have access to professional development training, a vast network of professionals working in the athletic administration field, discounts on various registration fees, and the ability to nominate students and other athletic administrators for national recognition.

The Future Of Interscholastic Sports

The driving force behind middle and high school sports programs is the development of strong, well-rounded students who will enter adulthood prepared both intellectually and socially.

Retired Principal Al Burr, in an article titled “Why Education-Based Athletics?” said that coaching is a teaching profession and interscholastic athletics are linked to the overall objective of education.

“Interscholastic athletics are inherently educational, and support the academic mission of schools,” Burr explains “Just as coaches are teachers, they are also architects who build tomorrow’s leaders. Coaches teach new skills to be utilized in competition, but more importantly, they must build a foundation by teaching skills that can be utilized to achieve success later in life.”

The NIAAA has, at its heart, the desire to continue promoting this model of interscholastic sports. Its committees, recognition programs, and training materials are all centered on the idea that a sports education is part of complete student education and will go on positively serving each student for the rest of their lives.

Learn More About Ohio University’s Online Master’s in Athletic Administration

Thanks in part to Frank Kovaleski’s efforts and ties to the NIAAA, Ohio University created one of the first academic programs in the field of sports administration: the Master’s in Athletic Administration program (MAA).

The online MAA program focuses on preparing interscholastic athletic directors to nurture student-athletes and run athletic departments.

Ohio University’s MAA program is accredited by the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA) and prepares students for National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) certification.

Recommended Reading:

Ohio University Blog, “The Benefits Of Interscholastic Athletic Programs”
Ohio University Blog, “An Athletic Director’s Responsibilities And Career Outlook”
4 Traits Developed By Interscholastic Sports


National Federation of State High School Associations, “NIAAA To Induct 12 Into Hall Of Fame And Honor 12 Others In Orlando”
NIAAA, “Leadership Training Course Descriptions”
NIAAA Membership
NYSPHSAA, “The Benefits Of An Interscholastic Athletic Program”
NIAAA Certification Process
Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association, “Why education-based athletics?”