The Benefits of Athletic Association Membership

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Athletic administrators, coaches, and students have access to a number of benefits that come with membership in professional athletic associations. In addition to a sense of camaraderie with peers, members may be eligible for insurance coverage, annual awards, scholarship programs, and access to sports industry publications.

Associations such as the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) are open to members from across the nation. Before joining one or more associations, students in a master’s in athletic administration online program should understand what the various groups do and what they can offer their members.

Team huddles up

List of Sports Associations and Benefits

Why be an athletic director? If the answer doesn’t include a lifelong love of sports, an affinity for organization and management, and a talent for conceptualizing solutions and putting them into action, then the field of athletic administration might not be the right choice. Graduate students with the appropriate mix of skills and abilities should find the sports administration field full of opportunities.

Athletic associations exist at the national, state, and local levels, and within each sport category — for instance, the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), the National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association (NISCA), and the National Deaf Interscholastic Athletic Association (NDIAA).

By far the largest and most influential are the NIAAA, NFHS, National Association of Sports Officials (NASO), and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Here’s a look at them and some of their details and benefits:


The NIAAA promotes athletic administrators’ professional growth and the development of state and local associations. The organization also facilitates an efficient system for exchanging information and preserves the core educational nature of interscholastic sports programs.

Members receive a quarterly professional journal of sports administration news, a $2 million liability insurance policy, life insurance, discounted health insurance plans, access to certification and training classes, educational materials, and many award and scholarship opportunities. The NIAAA is also notable for its annual Thomas E. Frederick Award of Excellence.


The National Federation of State High School Associations differs slightly from the NIAAA in that it offers more educational content directed specifically at sports rules, regulations, legal information, and game mechanics. The NFHS also makes videos, 3-D manuals, PDF files and e-books, officiating courses (for umpires, referees, and judges), and other educational content available to its members.

Like the NIAAA, the NFHS also hosts a national awards and recognition program, a quarterly publication, insurance coverage for all levels of sports officiating (including accident and liability), opportunities to serve on various committees, and even rental car discounts.


Athletic administrators can’t overlook the importance of well-trained sports officials. A sport without adequate referees or judges could never be truly competitive, so ADs need to protect those who officiate games. The National Association of Sports Officials concentrates solely on sport program officiating and provides training, materials, insurance, and advocacy for officials.

NASO offers its members bodily injury, property damage, and liability insurance; coverage for allegations of officiating-related errors that result in a claimed financial loss: assault protection; and advocacy on issues that affect sports officiating. The organization also provides a consultation program, a monthly publication, a member’s app for mobile devices, newsletters, and discount/VIP programs.


Although the NCAA is a collegiate association that does not cover interscholastic ADs, high school athletic administrators can’t ignore what the NCAA does, especially in terms of scholarships for high school graduates moving on to college sports. The NCAA also publishes a five-step trajectory of how college ADs are hired, according to sports administrator Brian Fowler’s research paper, “Career and Educational Experiences of High School Athletic Directors: A Multi-level Perspective” on One of the steps in the NCAA’s trajectory is to hold a position as a high school coach.

Among the organization’s other offerings are several prestigious scholarships, year-round drug testing, an injury surveillance program, cheerleading safety initiatives, educational opportunities, training materials, youth camps, and several different types of grants.

These four national athletic associations cover all sports programs. Athletic administrators should also look into state-level organizations, as well as sport-specific associations at national, state, and local levels. Such organizations help protect both staff and students, ensure that member schools follow the same rules and regulations in their sports programs, and offer an abundance of other useful incentives.

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

Ohio University created one of the first sports-related degrees tailored specifically to the field of sports administration: the Master’s in Athletic Administration online program (MAA). The 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. For more information, visit Ohio University’s MAA page.


Recommended Reading:

5 National Associations for Coaches

The Benefits of Interscholastic Athletic Programs

5 Tips to Help Your Athletes Earn College Scholarships



Thomas E. Frederick Award of Excellence (NIAAA Awards) – Swimming World Magazine

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