The field of athletic administration is a reasonably new and emerging field in the world of business as a whole. It is usually studied at master’s degree level, as a concentration of the MBA (Master of Business Administration) program. This means that it focuses on how organizations, businesses, and/or offices are managed, but specifically on athletic teams, clubs, and organizations. Responsibilities of the athletics administrator include efficiently managing all the resources of the organization, such information, finances, and people. The goal is to ensure that organizational objectives are met.
The key to any kind of business operations is information. Additionally, any organization’s most important resource is its staff. This is particularly true within the field of athletics, where it is the performance of individuals that ultimately drives success. That said, within athletic administration, external partners, including sponsors, are vital.
The field of athletic administration is very interesting and varied, and this is having a significant impact on the opportunity that exists for administrators as well. Various reports have been created about this, including:
- Boston.com reporting that there are new challenges in the field of athletic administrators as demand increases, but budgets shrink.
- The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reporting that demand for coaches and scouts is set to grow by 6% from 2014 to 2024, which is on par with the national average. This translates into 14,800 new jobs.
Because the field of athletic administration is becoming increasingly wide and varied, the list of possible careers is virtually endless. However, there are some career options that seem to be particularly popular. Payscale.com has reported on them, listing them and their average salaries, as:
- Team President – between $109,000 and $236,000 per year
- Director of Operations – between $64,000 and $125,000 per year
- Operations Manager – between $40,000 and $83,000 per year
- Nonprofit Director – between $41,000 and $65,000 per year
- Athletic Director – $57,256 per year
- Event Coordinator – between $32,000 and $46,000 per year
Salaries for those in athletic administration can vary greatly depending on a variety of factors, such as who they work for, where in the country they work, their level of education, and how much experience they have. According to the BLS, the average annual earnings for coaches and scouts at bachelor’s degree level is $31,000. The bottom 10% of professionals earn $17,930 per year or less, whereas the top 10% earn $70,050 per year or more.
One of the greatest factors of influence on average salaries is geographical location. As such, the BLS has reported that the top five states to work in are:
- District of Columbia:- $56,770 per year
- Hawaii: $54,610 per year
- West Virginia: $54,140 per year
- Louisiana: $54,020 per year
- New Jersey: $52,100 per year
The list of employers for those in the field of athletic administration is almost endless, since administrators are needed in any type of sports team. From colleges to the NFL, and from school teams to the Scouts, administrators are needed across the board. Meanwhile, Indeed.com has reported on some of the top paying employers in the country, such as:
- University of Colorado
- City and County of Denver
- Dallas Mavericks
What this demonstrates is the wide variety of employers that look for people with skills in athletic administration.
Athletic administration does not currently exist at undergraduate degree level. Rather, if you wish to become involved in this field, you will need to study at the master’s degree level. This means choosing the correct undergraduate degree, however, and the recommendation, since the master’s degree is the MBA, is to complete a bachelor’s degree in business. The bachelor’s degree in business administration is offered by colleges and universities across the country. Many schools now also offer the degree online. One example of a highly respected bachelor’s degree is the bachelor of science in business administration offered by Kaplan University. They offer this degree on campus and online, and they also offer a fast track option. Their degree consists of a number of core courses, including:
- College Composition I and II
- Professional Presence
- People, Power, and Politics – An Introduction to American Government
- The 1960s – Reshaping the American Dream
- The Technological Revolution – The Social Scientific Approach
To really further your career, it is recommended to study towards a master’s degree. In the field of athletic administration, this degree is the Master of Business Administration (MBA), which is the most prestigious business degree around. The MBA is considered a terminal professional degree, although a doctorate program does exist. The doctorate program, however, is for those interested in teaching the next generation of MBA graduates. It is at this point that you will choose your concentration, which is the MBA in Athletic Administration that is offered in a 100% online format, for instance, by Southern New Hampshire University.
Each college or university can set their own admission requirements for their MBA degree programs. That said, requirements are usually quite similar across the board. For the Southern New Hampshire University, for instance, the admission requirements are:
- Bachelor’s degree
- Minimum GPA of 2.75
- TOEFL, PTE, or IELTS for international applicants
It is common for schools to also require essays, letters of recommendation, an interview, and GMAT/GRE scores, although Southern New Hampshire University does not have these requirements.
Just as each school can set their own admission requirements, they can also set their own curriculum. This is why programmatic and scholastic accreditation is so important, as it demonstrates that the program meets a certain set of minimum requirements and industry standards. In most cases, schools will exceed these requirements as well. Hence, while the curriculum and the exact name of the courses may differ significantly between schools, they will often follow very similar courses. The degree offered by Southern New Hampshire University includes the core expected courses of the MBA degree, as well a number of courses that focus specifically on the athletic administration degree. These courses are:
- Sport and Society
- Principles in Athletic Administration
- Sport Marketing and Media
- Advanced Topics/Athletic Administration
Studying, whether it in the undergraduate or graduate level, is very expensive. That being said, there are a lot of help out there to ensure people are able to pursue their studies. Financial aid exists across all registered universities in the country, and there are also numerous grants and scholarships available. When you are considering enrolling in a college or university, do make sure that you contact their bursar’s office, as they are likely to have lists of scholarships, grants, and other forms of financial assistance that may be available to you. However, there are also a number of external organizations that offer assistance, often targeted at specific demographics, such as people of a certain gender, a certain ethnic group, a certain geographical location, and so on. Some of these external grants and scholarships relevant to administration degrees include the:
- Charles K. Mruk Scholarship, which is offered by the New England Sports Turf Managers Association (NESTMA)
- David J. Stern Sports Scholarship, which is part of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund through the National Basketball Association (NBA), which is a $30,000 grant available to those with a GPA of 3.0 minimum
- Doris Horton Memorial Scholarship, which is offered by the Department of Health, Exercise, and Sport Sciences (HESS), which is a $2,000 grant for those with financial need, a 3.0 GPA minimum, and a variety of other requirements
- Dr. James Watson Undergraduate Scholarship, which offers $1,000 through the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) to members of the organization
- Fred M. Coombs Scholarship, which is a $1,500 offered to students of the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences at West Virginia University
- Gavin White Jr. Scholarship Fund, which is a $1,000 annual scholarship offered to those of a minority ethnic background
- Glen Taylor Sport Business Leader Scholarship, which is offered to students at the University of Minnesota in Mankato. $1,000 is given to eligible students.
- GRSA Conference Scholarship Program, which is offered to two students in Georgia each year who become or are members of the GRSA
- Jack “Swede” Frauson Sports Management Scholarship, which is awarded to a North Carolina student each year
- Jim McKay Scholarship Program, which offers a $10,000 grant to students focusing on sports communications
- Marriott Golf Minority Scholarship, which offers a $1,500 grant to minority students with a 3.0 GPA minimum
To demonstrate professional excellence and to increase your employability, you may want to consider completing a number of certifications. However, you do have to be realistic about what this entails. Usually, certifications are quite costly, and many people do not pass the exams the first time. Furthermore, you will also have to prepare for the exam, which can take at least six months. Additionally, certifications usually have to be maintained, which means you will have to commit to obtaining continuous education credits at regular intervals. That being said, the value of certifications is incredible, particularly in a highly competitive business world. Not just that but certain professions are required to hold certifications or licenses. Some of the most relevant certifications for athletic administration professionals include the:
- NIAAA Certification Program, which promotes the professional standards in the field of athletic administration. It is a voluntary certification that must be maintained through continuous professional education. A highly value option, it is recommended by most schools for athletic administrators.
- Sports Law & Risk Management, which focuses specifically on how to manage risks within athletics, and how to comply with relevant legal regulations
- Sporting Arenas and Event Management, which ensures athletic administrators can become involved in the field of event organizations and all that entails
- Sports Public Relations and Marketing, which is particularly relevant to MBA degree holders who have taken elective courses in the field of marketing and public relations. This certificate enables you to be at the forefront of the PR of clubs and organizations, helping them to attract more fans and more sponsors. It is also incredibly important in terms of headhunting new sporting talent.
- Exercise Science, which is a very interesting certification for those who want to continue their education and move away from the administrative field, into research instead. With this certification, you could make improvements to the way athletes are managed and pushed to be the best they can be, without breaking their limits.
- Recreation Management, which focuses more strongly on the field of entertainment and recreation, meaning that you could move away from working directly with athletes, focusing instead on how the general public enjoys athletic performance, or available athletic resources within the community.
To advance your career, create more networking opportunities, and generally increase your standing in the professional world, it is recommended that you join professional organizations. This will also enable you to maintain your continuous education credits if these are required to maintain your license or certification. Some of the professional associations you may want to consider in the field of athletic administration are the:
- National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association
- North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM)
- Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA)
Many of these professional organizations also offer their members the opportunity to apply for scholarships. This means that it is advisable to join them as early as possible, as they may help fund a great deal of your degree. Generally speaking, membership is available to anyone with an interest in the field of sports management of athletic administration, although you may be able to access different membership tiers depending on what education you have completed.
- MBA in Athletic Administration. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.snhu.edu/online-degrees/masters/mba-online/mba-in-athletic-administration
- Van Voorhis, Scott. Changes at top. (2010, Jul. 1). Retrieved from http://archive.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/07/01/athletic_directors_jobs_change_as_demands_increase_budgets_shrink/
- Occupational Outlook Handbook – Coaches and Scouts. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/entertainment-and-sports/coaches-and-scouts.htm
- Athletic Director Salary. (2017, Mar. 25). Retrieved from http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Athletic_Director/Salary
- Sports Management Salaries in the United States. (2017, Apr. 9). Retrieved from http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Athletic_Director/Salary