This study attempted to identify the issues confronting athletic directors at the NCAA Division I FBS membership institutions from the following athletic conferences: American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, Mid American Conference, Mountain West Conference, and Sun Belt Conference. These conferences are considered to be non-BCS automatic qualifying conferences. Since the literature showed a lack of research on most of the issues that impact the university athletic director, this research attempted to present an enhanced perspective of the issues that the athletic director must confront in his or her career and daily life. The researcher utilized an explanatory sequential mixed methods research design to identify and explore the issues. Twenty-two of sixty-one athletic directors responded to a thirteen item electronic survey. Follow-up interviews were administered to six of the athletic directors who indicated a willingness to participate. Athletic directors identified fundraising, managing the budget and finance issues, and student-athlete welfare as the top three issues affecting his or her career. Athletic directors identified the following as those issues that consumed most of their time: fundraising, managing his or her department's budget, and staying current on NCAA regulations. Athletic directors identified the following as their most stressful issues: fundraising, budget, decision making, personnel, the pending autonomy of the high resource conferences, and general uncertainty. Warning signs identified by the athletic directors included: national lawsuits, declining attendance (both alumni/fans and students) at sporting events, and decreasing state support. In addition, individual athletic directors identified the following issues that may impact the future: negative impact on the United States Olympic movement due to significantly increased emphasis on football and men's basketball, impact of non-practioner perspective in governance of collegiate athletics, and possible significant change in the definition of amateurism.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Athletic directors -- United States; College sports -- United States -- Management; National Collegiate Athletic Association -- Division I

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

McManus, John F.;