Skip to content

What Does an Athletic Director Do?

The role of an athletic director is to manage all facets of an athletic program, including scheduling, hiring coaches, promoting programs and events, ordering equipment, constructing budgets, and facilitating operations. Athletic directors also often help fundraise events and supervise sports personnel. They serve as mentors to student-athletes and provide guidance when needed. They resolve administrative issues and work closely with individual coaches to ensure there are no scheduling conflicts with shared equipment and workout rooms, game days, practice days, and days off.

Athletic directors also keep track of policies made by the school board, communicate with college or university athletic directors and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and collaborate with conferences regarding scheduling and post-season games. In addition, they oversee mediation between student-athletes and coaches and will assist in conflict resolution if issues arise. Athletic directors also work with school administrators or compliance officers to ensure that student-athletes maintain their academic eligibility to play their chosen sport.

As a liaison with recruiters, leagues, and directors, athletic directors play a crucial role for school officials, teams, and players. They develop a successful athletic program while adapting to day-to-day challenges with focus, flexibility, and passion.

Ideal Skills for a Successful Athletic Director

While every athletic director brings their own unique traits to their role, a core set of skills is needed to make an athletic director successful. Some of the most important skills are:

  • Excellent communication skills. An athletic director communicates both verbally and through written forms with those that are involved in the program. A successful athletic director realizes that communicating with students differs greatly from communicating with coaches, administration, and peers.
  • A strong judge of character. Since an athletic director hires coaches and others within the program, recognizing the strengths of an individual beyond those on their resume is a necessary skill.
  • Leadership abilities. Part of an athletic director's job is to inspire and bring people together. The director is the leader of a sports program, and they need to motivate others to work together by example.
  • Problem-solving skills. Athletic directors must make tough decisions regarding the allocation of funds and resources. To make their program thrive, directors need to think and work creatively to activate resourceful project management skills.
  • Athletic directors should encourage the finest ability in their student-athletes. Many athletic directors lead as role models for students to live a healthy lifestyle and show that the exemplary qualities that make a superb athlete also make a good person.

Next Steps

Many organizations and schools require athletic directors to hold a master's degree that involves coursework in leadership, finances, budgeting, management, and physical education. The yearly salary for an athletic director depends on the size and type of school, and if it's a secondary school or a college or university. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics puts the median pay of a postsecondary athletic director at $97,500 per year, or $46.87 per hour. PayScale estimates the average salary for a secondary school athletic director at $60,948 per year.

A Master of Science in Educational Administration online from Emporia State University will provide you with the expertise to become an effective and successful athletic director. This program offers classes that will strengthen key skills like communication, leadership, management, creativity, and problem-solving.

Learn more about Emporia State University's online Master of Science in Educational Administration program.


PayScale: Average Athletic Director Salary

U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics: Postsecondary Education Administrators

Have a question or concern about this article? Please contact us.

Need More Information?

Submit this form, and a representative will contact you to answer any questions!

Request Information
*All fields required.
or call 800-721-2248 800-721-2248
By submitting this form, I am providing my digital signature agreeing that Emporia State University (ESU) may email me or contact me regarding educational services by telephone and/or text message utilizing automated technology or a pre-recorded message at the telephone number(s) provided above. I understand this consent is not a condition to attend ESU or to purchase any other goods or services.

Ready to Go?

Start your application today!

Apply Now

Or call 800-721-2248 800-721-2248

for help with any questions you have.