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Athletic director (commonly, "athletics director") is a position at many American colleges and universities, as well as in larger high schools and middle schools, which oversees the work of the coaches and related staff involved in intercollegiate or interscholastic athletic programs. At some colleges, the athletic director may hold academic rank but this practice is on the case. At most colleges, he/she is not a faculty member but a full-time administrator.

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Position at Institution

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.

Athletic Directors as Coaches

Formerly, especially at major football-playing institutions, particularly in the South, the head football coach was also the "AD". 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. Additionally, most of the old-line coaches who demanded such total control as a condition of employment have since either retired or died, leaving in place a new generation who are not desirious 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; some school districts have a full-time director of athletics. Additionally, corporations which sponsor recreational or competitive sports may employ an athletic director.

References

C. Jensen & S. Overman. Administration and Management of Physical Education and Athletic Programs. 4th edition. Waveland Press, 2003 (Chapter 15, "The School Athletics Program").

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Simple English

An athletic director is someone who is in charge of the sports at a school. Most colleges and high schools have an athletic director.


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