According to the Center for Sports Business Research at Penn State University, the sports market is a $400 billion industry that is growing each year. Many of the professional leagues are expanding on a regular basis, and new leagues are forming almost yearly. Obviously, this growth is a reflection of the interest our society has in the sports entertainment industry. Coupled with current expansion in intercollegiate athletic departments across the country, this growth has created a huge demand for well-trained professionals in many areas, ranging from administration and management, to finance and accounting, to promotions and marketing.
The popularity of sport in America has translated into many opportunities for those aspiring for careers in sports management and marketing graduates. Students in college are discovering a sudden growth in university programs focused on athletic administration. Student interest in jobs in sports administration, marketing, sales, public relations, coaching, and many other areas are now seeking programs that meet those specific needs. Sports administration, management, and marketing programs are producing graduates who are prepared for a career in the sector of their interest.
Careers in college, university and high school athletic administration focus on opportunities for student-athletes who are interested in participation in competitive interscholastic athletics. The positions available often are driven by the size of the school, demographics of the community, and financial support in the fiscal budget allocated to athletics. Most athletic administrators have past experience in teaching and coaching and have earned at minimum a Master’s degree in either their teaching specialty or administration. The opportunities for employment in this field are limitless throughout the country as positions are available anywhere there is an educational institution.
Athletic administrators are ultimately responsible for preparing student athletes to compete athletically and academically at their school. Those interested in a career in athletic administration will be responsible for a wide range of jobs to meet this end. The main focus of athletic administration will center on the skills of planning, managing, coordinating, operating, and evaluating, athletic and activity programs for the school in which they are hired. An athletic administrator’s job can be very complex and diverse; however, there are four basic responsibilities of most athletic administrators: competitive success, the academic success of student athletes, fiscal responsibility, and rules compliance. Athletic administrators are required to guide student athletes, coaches, and staff to reach the height of their personal potential. Since a large portion of the community support is based on the win and loss record of athletic programs, success on the field factors in greatly in an athletic administrators success. Often a community will find their identity in the success and failures of “their” team. Athletic administrators are often held responsible for the hiring of coaches who will motivate student athletes, and bring continued success and discipline to athletic programs.
Virtually every school district, college, or university has a need for athletic administrators in a variety of positions. Rural areas, small school districts, and inner-city school districts experience the greatest turnover, and therefore have the greatest need for athletic administrators. Potential athletic directors should examine the community they wish to work in, and consider the community’s support of existing athletic programs before accepting a position.