An athletic director (commonly "athletics director" or "AD") is an administrator at many clubs or institutions, like colleges and universities, as well as in larger high schools and middle schools, who oversees the work of coaches and related staff involved in athletic programs.
Modern athletic directors are often in a precarious position, especially at the larger institutions. Although technically in charge of all of the coaches, they are often far less well-compensated and also less famous, with few having their own television and radio programs as many coaches now do. In attempting to deal with misconduct by coaches, they often find their efforts trumped by a coach's powerful connections, particularly if he is an established figure with a long-term winning record. However, in the case of severe coaching misconduct being proven, often the athletic director will be terminated along with the offending coach.
Over the last several years, the role of an athletic director has changed dramatically. Before, the athletic department was overseen by one of the school's head coaches. Now, the position attracts executives inside and outside the sports industry. Athletic directors can negotiate multimillion-dollar media deals and can manage powerful coaches who are usually the highest paid employees in the state. Based on the division and the school's athletic needs, athletic directors can also be in charge of scheduling games and events, monitoring a team's players and making sure coaches, players and anyone who is heavily involved with the department are complying with all of the sports agency's regulations. A bachelor's degree is required for all divisions and a masters degree is preferred by larger schools. These degrees normally consist of sports management, psychology, physical education and business management. The top athletic directors in high school have an average salary ranging from $58,400 to $87,000. In 2013, the highest paid athletic director at the NCAA Division I level was David Williams of Vanderbilt who was paid $3,239,678. However, Williams' salary is not directly comparable to that of other Division I athletic directors because of Vanderbilt's unique administrative structure for varsity athletics. Unlike all other Division I schools, Vanderbilt athletics are not administered by a separate athletic department, but instead are governed directly by the university (specifically within its Division for Student Life). Effectively, Vanderbilt athletics are treated as any other student organization. Williams' athletic duties are part of his position as Vanderbilt's vice president for student life.
Formerly, especially at major football-playing institutions, particularly in the South, the head football coach was also the "AD". Among the coaches to hold simultaneously hold the AD position were Bear Bryant (Texas A&M and Alabama), Ray Perkins (Alabama), Frank Broyles (Arkansas), Pat Dye (Auburn), Ray Graves (Florida), Wally Butts (Georgia), Vince Dooley (Georgia), Charles Shira (Mississippi State), Bud Wilkinson (Oklahoma), Robert Neyland (Tennessee), Darrell Royal (Texas) and Emory Bellard (Texas A&M).
Broyles retired as Arkansas football coach in 1976, but remained as Razorbacks athletic director through 2007. Dooley retired as Georgia football coach in 1988, but remained as athletic director well into the 2000s.
LSU was one of the exceptions to the rule in the south. Football coach Charles McClendon nearly bolted for Texas A&M when he was offered the combined position of football coach and athletic director by the Aggies in January 1972, but remained in Baton Rouge after successful lobbying by LSU athletic director Carl Maddox and Louisiana Governor John McKeithen.
Kentucky always kept its coaching and athletic director positions separate, even during the period (1946–53) when Bear Bryant coached football and Adolph Rupp coached men's basketball. Even though Bryant and Rupp were technically equals under athletic director Bernie Shively, Bryant chafed under the impression he was far less powerful and far less revered than Rupp, a main factor in his departure from Lexington.
This was usually done in a nominal sense, giving the coach additional prestige, additional pay, and the knowledge that the only supervision that he was under was that of the college president or chancellor and perhaps an athletics committee, and such supervision was often token. An associate athletics director actually performed the functions of athletic director on a daily basis in the name of the coach. At a few institutions where basketball was the predominant sport the head men's basketball coach was treated similarly. In recent decades, this system has been almost entirely abandoned; collegiate sports, especially in its compliance aspects, has become far too complicated an undertaking to be run on a part-time basis. The last football coach to hold both positions at a major university was Derek Dooley at Louisiana Tech before leaving to become head coach at Tennessee after the 2009 season.
Paul Dietzel (LSU) and Tom Osborne (Nebraska) coached the football teams at their respective schools to national championships and later came back as athletic director after working elsewhere. Dietzel left LSU following the 1961 football season and coached at Army and South Carolina before returning to LSU as AD in 1978. Osborne served three terms in the United States House of Representatives after coaching the Cornhuskers from 1973 through 1997; he returned to Nebraska as AD in 2007.
Johnny Vaught, who coached Ole Miss to a share of the 1960 national championship, was not the Rebels' athletic director during his original 24-year tenure (1947-70) as football coach, but was re-hired as coach and also given the duties of athletic director three games into the 1973 season. Vaught stepped down as football coach at the end of the 1973 season, but remained as athletic director until 1978.
Additionally, most of the old-line coaches who demanded such total control as a condition of employment have since either retired (or in Dooley's case, forced out) or died (Bryant died four weeks after coaching his final football game at Alabama), leaving in place a new generation who are not desirous of such an arrangement, if it were to be made available, and additionally have developed other sources of income, such as shoe contracts and radio and television appearance fees and endorsement contracts, that make the income which might come from the additional duty of athletic director unnecessary.
Increasingly, college athletic directors are less likely to be retired or active coaches with physical education or sports administration degrees and more likely to be persons who majored in business administration or a related field. The budget for a major athletic department of a large American university is now routinely at the level of tens of millions of dollars; such enterprises demand professional management. Athletic directors have their own professional organization in the U.S., the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics.
Other individuals may be referred to as athletic directors. As mentioned above, many U.S. high schools have someone who performs this duty at least on a part-time basis, usually in conjunction with another coaching or administrative position; some school districts have a full-time director of athletics. Additionally, corporations which sponsor recreational or competitive sports may employ an athletic director.
The American Eagles are the athletics teams that represent the American University in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I competition. American is a member of the Patriot League in all sports except wrestling, where it is a member of the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association. Many of the teams have gone on to win championships over the years, particularly their field hockey, volleyball, and wrestling teams. The team colors are red and blue.Bill Byrne (athletic director)
Clarence William "Bill" Byrne Jr. (born Boston, Massachusetts) was an American athletic director of Texas A&M University from January 2003 to May 8, 2012 when he retired. He will be a Special Adviser to Texas A&M University President R. Bowen Loftin until August 31, 2012. Upon leaving the athletic department he will hold the title of Athletic Director Emeritus at Texas A&M.Bump Elliott
Chalmers William "Bump" Elliott (born January 30, 1925) is a former American football player, coach, and college athletics administrator. He played halfback at Purdue University (1943–1944) and the University of Michigan (1946–1947). Elliott grew up in Bloomington, Illinois, enlisted in the United States Marine Corps as a senior in high school and was assigned to the V-12 Navy College Training Program at Purdue University. He received varsity letters in football, baseball, and basketball at Purdue, before being called into active duty in late 1944, serving with the Marines in China.
After being discharged from the military, he enrolled at the University of Michigan in 1946 and joined the football team for whom his brother Pete Elliott played quarterback. In 1947, he played for an undefeated and untied Michigan football team known as the "Mad Magicians", led the Big Nine Conference in scoring, won the Chicago Tribune Silver Football trophy as the Most Valuable Player in the Conference, and was selected as an All-American by the American Football Coaches Association.
After graduating from Michigan in 1948, Elliott spent ten years as an assistant football coach at Oregon State, Iowa, and Michigan. He was appointed as Michigan's head football coach in 1959 and held that position until 1968, leading the team to a Big Ten Conference championship and Rose Bowl victory in the 1964 season. For a period of 21 years, from 1970 to 1991, he was the athletic director at the University of Iowa. During his tenure as athletic director, he hired coaches Dan Gable, Hayden Fry, Lute Olson, C. Vivian Stringer, and Dr. Tom Davis, and the Iowa Hawkeyes won 41 Big Ten Conference championships and 11 NCAA titles. In 1989, Elliott was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.Ceal Barry
Adele Cecilia "Ceal" Barry (born April 1, 1955) is an American college athletics administrator and former basketball player and coach. She is concurrently the Associate Athletic Director for Student Services and Senior Woman Administrator at the University of Colorado Boulder. She served as the interim athletic director at Colorado in 2013 and served as the head coach of the Colorado Buffaloes women's basketball team from 1983 to 2005. She was inducted into the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame in 1997 and into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018.Chuck Bennett
Charles Henry "Chuck" Bennett (August 9, 1907 – June 9, 1973) was an American football player and coach. He played halfback for the Indiana University football team from 1926 to 1928 and won the 1928 Chicago Tribune Silver Football trophy as the most valuable player in the Big Ten Conference. He also played professional football for the Portsmouth Spartans from 1929 to 1931 and for the Chicago Cardinals in 1933. After retiring as a football player, Bennett was a high school coach and athletic director from 1934 to 1966.College Football Playoff
The College Football Playoff (CFP) is an annual postseason knockout tournament to determine a national champion of the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), the highest level of college football competition in the United States. The inaugural tournament was held at the end of the 2014 NCAA Division I FBS football season which was won by Ohio State. Four teams play in two semifinal games, and the winner of each semifinal advances to the College Football Playoff National Championship game.A 13-member committee selects and seeds the four teams to take part in the CFP. This system differs from the use of polls or computer rankings that had previously been used to select the participants for the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), the title system used in FBS from 1998 to 2013. The current format is a Plus-One system, an idea which became popular as an alternative to the BCS after the 2003 and 2004 seasons ended in controversy.The two semifinal games rotate among six major bowl games, referred to as the New Year's Six: the Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, and Peach Bowl. In addition to the four teams selected for the playoff, the final CFP rankings are used to help determine the participants for the other four New Year's Six bowls that are not hosting the semifinals that year. The semifinal games, which take place on the same day, are usually scheduled on Friday, Saturday, or Monday close to or on New Years Day, with flexibility allowed to ensure that they are not in conflict with other bowl games traditionally held on New Year's Day. The National Championship game is then played on the first Monday that is six or more days after the semifinals.The venue of the championship game is selected based on bids submitted by cities, similar to the Super Bowl or NCAA Final Four. The winner of the game is awarded the College Football Playoff National Championship Trophy. Playoff officials commissioned a new trophy that was unconnected with the previous championship systems, such as the AFCA "crystal football" trophy which had been regularly presented after the championship game since the 1990s (as the AFCA was contractually obligated to name the BCS champion as the Coaches Poll champion).As the NCAA does not organize or award an official national championship for FBS football (instead merely recognizing the decisions made by any of a number of independent major championship selectors), the CFP's inception in 2014 marked the first time a major national championship selector in college football was able to determine their champion by using a bracket competition.Ernie McCoy (athletic director)
Ernest B. McCoy (July 20, 1904 – September 16, 1980) was an All-American basketball player at the University of Michigan from 1927 to 1929. After graduating, he spent his entire professional career in college athletics, serving as the athletic director at Penn State (1952–1970), the athletic director at the University of Miami (1971–1973), and a basketball coach (1949–1952), assistant football coach, and assistant athletic director (1946–1952) at Michigan. He is most remembered as the athletic director who hired Joe Paterno as head football coach at Penn State in 1966.Frank Broyles
John Franklin Broyles (December 26, 1924 – August 14, 2017) was an American football player and coach, athletics administrator, and broadcaster. He served as the head football coach at the University of Missouri in 1957 and at the University of Arkansas from 1958 to 1976. Broyles also was Arkansas' athletic director from 1974 until his retirement on December 31, 2007.As a head football coach, Broyles compiled a record of 149–62–6. His mark of 144–58–5 in 19 seasons is the most wins and the most games of any head coach in Arkansas Razorbacks football history. With Arkansas, Broyles won seven Southwest Conference titles and his 1964 team was named a national champion by a number of selectors including the Football Writers Association of America. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983.Gene Smith (athletic director)
Eugene "Gene" Smith is a college administrator and former college football player and coach who currently serves as Vice President and Athletic Director for the Ohio State University.
He was named the university's eighth athletic director on March 5, 2005. Prior to his tenure at Ohio State, he served as athletic director for Arizona State, Eastern Michigan, and Iowa State.Greg Byrne (athletic director)
Greg Byrne (born November 29, 1971) is the athletic director at the University of Alabama. Prior to this appointment, Byrne was the athletic director at the University of Arizona, the athletic director at Mississippi State University from 2008–2010 after serving as associate athletic director for the preceding two years. Previously, Byrne held associate director of athletics positions at University of Kentucky, and Oregon State University.John David Crow
John David Crow Sr. (July 8, 1935 – June 17, 2015) was an American football player, coach, and college athletics administrator. He won the Heisman Trophy as a halfback for the Texas A&M Aggies football team of Texas A&M University in 1957. After college, he played professional football in the National Football League (NFL) for the Chicago and St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers between 1958 and 1968.
After his playing career, Crow became an assistant football coach for the Alabama Crimson Tide football team of the University of Alabama, serving under coach Bear Bryant from 1969 to 1971. He moved to the NFL as an assistant with the Cleveland Browns in 1972, and then the San Diego Chargers in 1974. In December 1975, Crow was hired as head football coach and athletic director at Northeast Louisiana University—now the University of Louisiana at Monroe. He coached the football team for five seasons, from 1976 to 1980, compiling a record of 20–34–1. He remained as athletic director until 1981. Crow returned to his alma mater, Texas A&M, in 1983 as an assistant athletic director. He was promoted to athletic director in 1988 and served in that capacity until 1993.
Crow was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1976. A street on the campus of Texas A&M University adjacent to Kyle Field is named after him.
In 2009 Erle and Alice Nye commissioned a twice life size bronze statue of Crow, and donated the $250,000 monument to Texas A&M University, sculpted by Steven Whyte.Kevin White (athletic director)
Kevin Michael White (born September 25, 1950) is an American college administrator who is currently the athletic director at Duke University. He has held this position since May 30, 2008. White succeeded Joe Alleva as the Blue Devils' AD when Alleva accepted the same position at Louisiana State University.
He held similar positions at the University of Notre Dame, Arizona State University, Tulane University, the University of Maine, and Loras College.Mark Hollis (athletic director)
Mark Hollis (born September 10, 1962) is an American sports administrator who served as the athletic director at Michigan State University, succeeding Ron Mason on January 1, 2008. Hollis retired on January 31, 2018.Mark Murphy (safety, born 1955)
Mark Hodge Murphy (born July 13, 1955) is the current president and chief executive officer for the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League (NFL). Prior to that, he was the athletic director at Northwestern University and Colgate University. He also enjoyed a successful playing career in the NFL as a safety for the NFL's Washington Redskins for eight seasons from 1977 to 1984.Pat Haden
Patrick Capper Haden (born January 23, 1953) is the former athletic director at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles from August 2010 to June 2016. He played quarterback for the USC Trojans before playing professionally in the National Football League (NFL) for the Los Angeles Rams from 1976 through 1981. He also played in the World Football League (WFL) for the Southern California Sun in 1975.
Haden is a Rhodes Scholar, was a practicing attorney from 1982 to 1987, and was a partner at Riordan, Lewis & Haden, a private equity firm, from 1987 to 2010. He is also known for his work as a former sportscaster, beginning with CBS Sports in 1982, and ending his career in that field as a color commentator for NBC Sports' Notre Dame football coverage.Pat Richter
Hugh Vernon "Pat" Richter (born September 9, 1941) is the former University of Wisconsin–Madison athletic director and American football player. He was responsible for hiring Barry Alvarez from Notre Dame in 1990 as head football coach, restoring the Badgers football program to national prominence. He also hired basketball coaches Dick Bennett and Bo Ryan, both of whom reached the "Final Four" of the NCAA Tournament.Red Rolfe
Robert Abial "Red" Rolfe (October 17, 1908 – July 8, 1969) was an American third baseman, manager and front-office executive in Major League Baseball. A graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy, Rolfe also was an Ivy Leaguer: a graduate, then long-time athletic director of Dartmouth College, and (from 1943–46) baseball and basketball coach at Yale University.
Rolfe was a native of Penacook, New Hampshire. He batted left-handed, threw right-handed, and was listed as 5 feet 11 inches (1.80 m) tall and 170 pounds (77 kg).Tom Osborne
Thomas William Osborne (born February 23, 1937) is a former American football player, coach, college athletics administrator, and politician from Nebraska. He served as head football coach of the Nebraska Cornhuskers for 25 years, from 1973 to 1997. Osborne was one of the most successful coaches in American college football history, with a career record of 255–49–3 (.836), 13 conference championships, and three national championships. Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1999, Osborne was elected to Congress in 2000 from Nebraska's third district as a Republican. He served three terms (2001–2007), returned to the University of Nebraska as athletic director (AD) in 2007, and retired in January 2013.Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and Lady Toppers
The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and Lady Toppers are the athletic teams that represent Western Kentucky University (WKU). The men's teams uses the name Hilltoppers; however, the women's teams use the name Lady Toppers. The university's athletic program fields 17 varsity teams in 11 different sports. WKU participates in the Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and competes as a member of Conference USA.
On March 12, 2010, Ross Bjork, who was the senior associate athletic director for Development and External Relations for the UCLA Bruins, replaced Dr. Wood Selig, as WKU's athletic director. But in March 2012, Bjork accepted the job as athletic director at Ole Miss. Todd Stewart, who had served as Senior Associate Athletic Director since 2010, was named interim athletic director until May when he was officially named athletic director.On April 1, 2013, it was announced Western Kentucky would depart the Sun Belt Conference for Conference USA, effective July 1, 2014.