Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences ETDs

Publication Date



The purpose of this study was to establish a basic understanding of the challenges associated with directing athletic programs at NCAA Division III Institutions. Specifically, this study identified the frequency, intensity, and time allocated to common challenges facing the position of the NCAA Division III AD. The challenges were examined using the following independent variables: gender, type of institution, geographical location, AD experience, and Learfield Directors Cup finish (2010-2011). A total of 439 surveys were sent to active NCAA Division III Athletic Directors (ADs). The response rate was 47%. The following challenges were more prevalent for Division III ADs than the others: budget/finance, keeping athletic programs competitive, personnel issues, and time management. Balancing academics and athletics, risk management issues, and dealing with parents of athletes were challenges experienced by Division III ADs to a lesser degree. Additional challenges that respondents reported included managing fundraising efforts, budgets, and donors; balancing work, life, and many responsibilities; operating facilities; dealing with the negative faculty perception of athletics; collaborating with the NCAA and conferences; working with the admissions department; and educating coaches. A limited number of significant differences were found when exploring public and private schools, male and female ADs, competitive institutions and less competitive institutions, and regions of the country. Similarly, a weak correlation was found between frequency of each challenge and AD years of experience. Significant differences, however, were found in the following. First, male ADs tended to perceive time management as a challenge more frequently than female ADs. Second, as ADs years of experience increased, responses to time and frequency associated with budget/finance also increased. Third, ADs in the Mid West and South/West agreed with the intensity portion of the challenge of keeping athletics competitive more than ADs in the North East and ADs in the North East agreed more with the frequency portion of the challenge of dealing with parents of athletes than ADs in the Mid West. Additional findings have to do with the job satisfaction of Division III ADs. Over 84% of ADs reported to be at least a 4 out of 5 on a Likert Scale with 1 being not satisfied and 5 very satisfied and 44% reported to be very satisfied in their positions as AD. The mean for Division III AD satisfaction was 4.23. Further, 89% answered no to viewing their job as a steppingstone toward a better job. ADs in less competitive athletic programs tended to experience less satisfaction than ADs in the more competitive programs. It was recommended that experience at Division III Institutions and coaching at the collegiate level would best prepare future Division III ADs. It was also suggested that sport management programs should focus on preparing students in budget and finance, personnel and human resources, and developing people skills.'


National Collegiate Athletic Association. Division III, Athletic directors--Job satisfaction--United States, College sports--United States--Management--Psychological aspects, Athletic directors--Job stress--United States

Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Level of Degree


Department Name

Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences

First Committee Member (Chair)

Barnes, John

Second Committee Member

Seidler, Todd

Third Committee Member

Clement, Annie

Fourth Committee Member

Timmer, Jim Jr.