Preparing for the First Year as an Assistant AD

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Assistant athletic directors deal with many of the day-to-day operations of a school’s athletic program.

Assistant athletic directors work with the athletic director (AD) and coaches on the day-to-day operation of a school’s athletic program. An assistant athletic director’s responsibilities include sports-related duties but may encompass tasks related to compliance, budgeting, and communications as well.

As such, assistant athletic directors, like their supervisors, should possess skills in:

  • Leadership
  • Management
  • Organization
  • Budgeting
  • Interpersonal communication

But, as Tom Kolbe, University of Tampa assistant athletic director for communications, told the College Sports Information Directors of America, assistant athletic directors should also be able to “enjoy the moment and remember to make it as memorable as possible for the student-athletes and coaches.”

Earning a master’s in athletic administration online can help prepare sports professionals to work as assistant ADs and, eventually, to become ADs themselves.

Assistant Athletic Director Job Duties

Athletic directors can work long days when dealing with games, meetings, and busy schedules. Assistant ADs, according to the Chambersburg Pennsylvania School District and Glassdoor, relieve some of that burden by sharing responsibilities such as:

  • Upholding the school’s athletic code of conduct.
  • Working with the principal, superintendent, and others to uphold the supervision of interscholastic athletic programs.
  • Helping assemble transportation to and from athletic events.
  • Coordinating game management, ticket sales, security, athletic trainers, and emergency personnel and equipment.
  • Answering media inquiries, maintaining professional relationships with journalists, and distributing information to media about upcoming events.

“Athletic programs many times are the most visible to the public and to our [students’] parents. Because of this we want ours to be an example of doing things correctly,” Mike Graham, athletic director at Eagle’s View Academy in Jacksonville, FL, told Vertimix.

  • Assisting the director with schedule creation.
  • Creating publicity materials for sports events and the overall athletic program.
  • Helping develop and implement the budget. This process may also include identifying new revenue sources for the athletic department, according to the Houston Chronicle.
  • Keeping records of documents from program activities and events, participation, and information required for compliance with laws and regulations.
  • Managing accidents and injuries in adherence with school policies, laws, and regulations.

Most days, assistant athletic directors work in an office setting in school buildings. However, they also go offsite to athletic competitions and meetings. In addition to the above job duties, assistant directors should also possess skills and be knowledgeable in these areas:

  • Athletics, athletic programs, and physical fitness
  • Verbal and written communication skills
  • Knowledge of federal and state laws as they apply to high school athletics
  • Know how to use computer and software applications
  • Ability to multitask and manage time constraints

Assistant ADs also need to be prepared to perform other tasks as directed by the AD and the demands of the athletic program.

Tips for Success as an Assistant High School Athletic Director

Mark Orszula, athletic director at Streamwood High School in Illinois, told the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) that during his first year as an athletic director, the biggest surprise was the “variety of people and personalities” with whom he came into contact.

From coaches and athletes to parents and administrators, even fans, Orzula said, “In this job you are constantly communicating and trying to get a message out about your programs. You have to be adaptable to solve the variety of issues that arise daily.”

Given how closely assistant ADs work with ADs, good people skills are necessary.

Attending practices and getting to know student-athletes can set first-year assistant ADs up for success, Kevin Bryant, former athletic director at Tigard High School outside Portland, OR, told Athletic Business.

“It might have been a tough day and seeing student-athletes and coaches doing their thing seemed to right all wrongs in my world while reminding me why I do my job,” he said. “In this environment, I got to know athletes on a one-on-one basis and connect with them about their lives outside of sport.”

Bryant shared these other tips for being successful in athletic administration:

  • Double-check the details for game schedules and transportation.
  • Work with the athletic director to evaluate coaches and staff annually — and let them provide feedback, too.
  • Be present and pay attention to students and staff.
  • Share the workload with other members on staff.
  • Invest in booster clubs, which are typically organized by parents of students, athletic supporters, and fans. Bryant called it “time well spent and critical to the success of the adults serving our athletic programs, as well as our programs themselves.”

In the end, assistant athletic directors not only support the athletic director, but the athletic program as a whole, reaping the benefits both on and off the field.

“I love the interactions that I get to have with the kids,” Rick Guimond, athletic director at Marietta (Ohio) High School, told the NFHS. “Whether it’s a high-five in the hallway or a ‘good game’ after a contest, seeing young people grow and develop makes me proud.”

About Ohio University’s Online Master’s in Athletic Administration Program

As the first college in the country to offer an academic sports program, Ohio University continues its tradition of innovative excellence in sports education with its online Master of Athletic Administration (MAA) program.  Ohio University is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a “Best Business School” and The Princeton Review as a “Best College.” The online program is accredited by the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA). For more information, contact OHIO today.


Related Reading

7 Essential Traits of a Successful Athletic Director

Athletic Directors: Planning for the Season

2019 Trends in High School Sports Administration



What Are the Qualifications to Be an Assistant Athletic Director?: ZipRecruiter

CoSIDA Member Profile: Tom Kolbe – Tampa Assistant Athletic Director for Communications Share: College Sports Information Directors of America

Assistant Athletics Director Job Description: Chambersburg Pennsylvania School District

Assistant Athletics Director: Glassdoor

Job Description of Associate Athletic Directors: Houston Chronicle

Perspectives of Two First-year Athletic Directors:  National Federation of State High School Associations

Common Mistakes Made by High School Athletic Directors: Athletic Business

The keys to being a successful high school athletic director: Vertimax

Focusing on Positive Experiences as a High School Athletic Director: National Federation of State High School Associations