Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

Department of Leadership, Foundations, and Human Resource Education

Committee Chair

Hums, Mary A.

Author's Keywords

Intercollegiate athletics; Gender; Career development; Sport administration; Women


College sports--Management; Athletic directors; Women college administrators; Women--Employment


The roles of assistant and associate athletic director have been identified as positions in the "pipeline" to achieving the position of Athletic Director (Grappendorf, Lough, & Griffin, 2004; Lapchick, 2010). Given the underrepresentation of female Athletic Directors in intercollegiate athletics and the concern that women may experience difficulty accessing such positions, there is a growing need to understand the career experiences and expectations of women in senior-level management positions in intercollegiate athletics. The purpose of this study was to explore the career development of female assistant and associate athletic directors at NCAA Division I institutions. This study investigated participants' (a) career goals and expectations, (b) supports and barriers to career goals, and (c) negotiation strategies and coping mechanisms for managing barriers and supports in the pursuit of career goals. Data were collected from 15 senior-level female administrators in NCAA Division I intercollegiate athletics departments. Career goals for participants included (a) contributing to the development of student athletes and (b) advancing within an athletic department to a position of influence. For the majority of participants, a "position of influence" did not include a career goal of achieving the position of Athletic Director. Participants identified supports to achieving career goals as relationships with supervisors and mentors, professional development activities, opportunities for career advancement. Barriers to career goals included factors participants associated with a male-dominated industry and organizational structures. Participants perceived, however, the culture of intercollegiate athletics is shifting to one that is more gender inclusive. Moreover, findings suggest the perceived gender typing of positions in an athletic department may be a product of choice rather than a male-dominated industry or organizational structure. Finally, participants negotiated barriers by learning new skills, engaging networks, and through a process of self-reflection. Study findings provided valuable information for sport managers in intercollegiate athletics, the sport management classroom, and women and men entering intercollegiate athletic administration.