What the changing landscape of college athletics means for new athletic director hires

Kylie Lacey's picture
Tuesday, September 24, 2013

As college athletics has seemingly evolved into a billion dollar industry overnight, there has been a movement afoot for universities to gain more institutional control over their athletic departments. With athletic spending quickly outpacing that of academic, recent policy suggestions by university presidents have focused on stemming the escalating tide through stronger oversight. The result will mean that the hiring of those who lead these departments will not only come under greater scrutiny, but move towards a more standardized, formalized, and comprehensive process.

In the past, the position of collegiate athletics director was often filled by retiring coaches who had experience in the administrative and bureaucratic processes that were the focal point of department operations. As spending grew, so did the need for fundraising, and a new breed of career athletic administrators began to emerge with savvy business and development skills. In recent years, as athletic department budgets have reached in the hundreds of millions, many universities have looked to hiring athletic directors from the business world that bring experience managing major corporations with equally vast dollars at stake.

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