Athletics Director Leadership: How Forces Affect Leadership and Organizational Change Agendas

Marc E Christian, University of Pennsylvania


Intercollegiate athletics have received considerable attention by scholars in higher education. Despite this wide treatment by scholars, there is little examination of the athletics director. Most of the published research on athletics directors disproportionately focuses on the responsibilities of the athletics director, the pressures of the leadership position, the characteristics and behaviors of these leaders, and the organizational culture of athletics departments. The purpose of this study was to investigate and gain insight into the environmental forces that disrupted and influenced athletics director leadership. This study explored how the participants understood, acknowledged, and reacted to forces that unavoidably influenced their choices. Particular attention was placed on comprehending how these individuals led change in their organizations while at the same time balanced the intersecting demands on their positions. Qualitative research methods were used to explore the forces that influenced athletics directors at large, public and private research universities that were part of the NCAA and sponsor Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) or Division I-AAA (no football) athletics. A grounded theory methodological approach was used in the design and execution of this study. Using this method built theories through systematic stages of data analysis and conceptual development. The development of these concepts became the building blocks of theory,which explained the participants’ experiences as athletics directors. These findings offer insight into the forces that influenced athletics directors as they led change in their organizations.

Subject Area

Sports Management|Higher Education Administration|Educational leadership|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Christian, Marc E, "Athletics Director Leadership: How Forces Affect Leadership and Organizational Change Agendas" (2017). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI10279393.