An athletic director (commonly "athletics director" or "AD") is an administrator at many American clubs or institutions, such as colleges and universities, as well as in larger high schools and middle schools, who oversees the work of coaches and related staff involved in athletic programs.
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.
Over the last several years, the role of an athletic director has changed dramatically. Before, the athletic department was overseen by one of the school's head coaches. Now, the position attracts executives inside and outside the sports industry. Athletic directors can negotiate multimillion-dollar media deals and can manage powerful coaches who are usually the highest paid employees in the state.Based on the division and the school's athletic needs, athletic directors can also be in charge of scheduling games and events, monitoring a team's players and making sure coaches, players and anyone who is heavily involved with the department are complying with all of the sports agency's regulations. A bachelor's degree is required for all divisions and a masters degree is preferred by larger schools. These degrees normally consist of sports management, psychology, physical education and business management. The top athletic directors in high school have an average salary ranging from $58,400 to $87,000. In 2013, the highest paid athletic director at the NCAA Division I level was David Williams of Vanderbilt who was paid $3,239,678. However, Williams' salary was at the time not directly comparable to that of other Division I athletic directors because of Vanderbilt's unique administrative structure for varsity athletics. Unlike all other Division I schools, Vanderbilt athletics were then governed directly by the university (specifically within its Division for Student Life) rather than administered by a separate athletic department. Effectively, Vanderbilt athletics were treated as any other student organization. Williams' athletic duties were part of his position as Vanderbilt's vice president for student life. The university has since returned to a more traditional Division I model of a separate athletic department, with Williams returning to the formal title of athletic director; he resigned from that role shortly before his death in 2019.
Formerly, especially at major football-playing institutions, particularly in the South, the head football coach was also the "AD". Among the coaches to hold simultaneously hold the AD position were Bear Bryant (Texas A&M and Alabama), Ray Perkins (Alabama), Frank Broyles (Arkansas), Pat Dye (Auburn), Ray Graves (Florida), Wally Butts (Georgia), Vince Dooley (Georgia), Charles Shira (Mississippi State), Bud Wilkinson (Oklahoma), Robert Neyland (Tennessee), Darrell Royal (Texas) and Emory Bellard (Texas A&M).
Broyles retired as Arkansas football coach in 1976, but remained as Razorbacks athletic director through 2007. Dooley retired as Georgia football coach in 1988, but remained as athletic director well into the 2000s.
LSU was one of the exceptions to the rule in the south. Football coach Charles McClendon nearly bolted for Texas A&M when he was offered the combined position of football coach and athletic director by the Aggies in January 1972, but remained in Baton Rouge after successful lobbying by LSU athletic director Carl Maddox and Louisiana Governor John McKeithen.
Kentucky always kept its coaching and athletic director positions separate, even during the period (1946–53) when Bear Bryant coached football and Adolph Rupp coached men's basketball. Even though Bryant and Rupp were technically equals under athletic director Bernie Shively, Bryant chafed under the impression he was far less powerful and far less revered than Rupp, a main factor in his departure from Lexington.
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. The last football coach to hold both positions at a major university was Derek Dooley at Louisiana Tech before leaving to become head coach at Tennessee after the 2009 season.
Paul Dietzel (LSU) and Tom Osborne (Nebraska) coached the football teams at their respective schools to national championships and later came back as athletic director after working elsewhere. Dietzel left LSU following the 1961 football season and coached at Army and South Carolina before returning to LSU as AD in 1978. Osborne served three terms in the United States House of Representatives after coaching the Cornhuskers from 1973 through 1997; he returned to Nebraska as AD in 2007.
Johnny Vaught, who coached Ole Miss to a share of the 1960 national championship, was not the Rebels' athletic director during his original 24-year tenure (1947-70) as football coach, but was re-hired as coach and also given the duties of athletic director three games into the 1973 season. Vaught stepped down as football coach at the end of the 1973 season, but remained as athletic director until 1978.
Additionally, most of the old-line coaches who demanded such total control as a condition of employment have since either retired (or in Dooley's case, forced out) or died (Bryant died four weeks after coaching his final football game at Alabama), leaving in place a new generation who are not desirous 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, usually in conjunction with another coaching or administrative position; some school districts have a full-time director of athletics. Additionally, corporations which sponsor recreational or competitive sports may employ an athletic director.
The Southeastern Conference (SEC) is an American college athletic conference whose member institutions are located primarily in the South Central and Southeastern United States. Its fourteen members include the flagship public universities of ten states, three additional public land-grant universities, and one private research university. The conference is headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama. The SEC participates in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I in sports competitions; for football, it is part of the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), formerly known as Division I-A.
Vincent Joseph Dooley is the former head football coach and athletic director at the University of Georgia. During his 25-year coaching career at UGA, Dooley compiled a 201–77–10 record. His teams won six Southeastern Conference titles and the 1980 national championship. After the 1980 season, Dooley was recognized as college football's "Coach of the Year" by several organizations, including the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association, whose annual award has since been renamed as the Paul "Bear" Bryant Award. Dooley's teams were known for their hard nosed defense and conservative yet fundamentally sound offenses. From 1964 to 1980, Dooley was assisted by his defensive coordinator, Erskine "Erk" Russell.
The Vanderbilt Commodores are the intercollegiate athletic teams that represent Vanderbilt University, located in Nashville, Tennessee. Vanderbilt fields 16 varsity teams, 14 of which compete at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I level as a member of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Vanderbilt's women's lacrosse team plays in the American Athletic Conference. The bowling team plays in the Southland Bowling League. The University of Tennessee Volunteers are Vanderbilt's primary athletic rival, and the only other SEC team in Tennessee.
The National Football Foundation (NFF) is a non-profit organization founded in 1947 with early leadership from General Douglas MacArthur, longtime Army Black Knights football coach Earl Blaik and journalist Grantland Rice. Its mission is to promote and develop amateur American football on all levels throughout the United States and "developing the qualities of leadership, sportsmanship, competitive zeal and the drive for academic excellence in America's young people."
Charles Youmans McClendon, also known as "Cholly Mac", was an American football player and coach. He served at the head coach at Louisiana State University from 1962 to 1979. McClendon was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1986.
The LSU Tigers football program, also known as the Fighting Tigers, represents Louisiana State University in college football. The Tigers compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Western Division of the Southeastern Conference (SEC).
Paul Franklin Dietzel was an American football player, coach, and college athletics administrator. He served as the head coach at Louisiana State University (1955–1961), the United States Military Academy (1962–1965), and the University of South Carolina (1966–1974), compiling a career record of 109–95–5. Dietzel's 1958 LSU team concluded an 11–0 season with a win over Clemson in the Sugar Bowl and was a consensus national champion. For his efforts that year, Dietzel was named the National Coach of the Year by both the American Football Coaches Association and the Football Writers Association of America. Dietzel also served as the athletic director at South Carolina (1966–1974), Indiana University Bloomington (1977–1978), LSU (1978–1982), and Samford University (1985–1987).
The Arkansas Razorbacks football program represents the University of Arkansas in the sport of American football. The Razorbacks compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Western Division of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). The program has one national championship awarded by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and Helms Athletic Foundation (HAF) in 1964, one national championship awarded by the Foundation for the Analysis of Competitions and Tournaments (FACT) in 1977, 13 conference championships, 45 All-Americans, and an all-time record of 719–516–40. Home games are played at stadiums on or near the two largest campuses of the University of Arkansas System: Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, and War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
Charles Martin Newton was an American collegiate basketball player, coach, and athletics administrator. He served as the head men's basketball coach at Transylvania University from 1956 to 1968, the University of Alabama from 1968 to 1980, and Vanderbilt University from 1981 to 1989, compiling a career college basketball coaching record of 509–375. He was chairman of the NCAA Rules committee from 1979 to 1985 and was the president of USA Basketball from 1992 to 1996.
The Ole Miss Rebels football program represents the University of Mississippi, also known as "Ole Miss.” The Rebels compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Western Division of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). As of 2020, the team is coached by Lane Kiffin. Founded in 1893 as the state's first football team, Ole Miss has won six Southeastern Conference titles and three national titles.
Derek Dooley is an American football coach and former player who is currently the tight ends coach for the New York Giants. He previously served as the head football coach at the University of Tennessee from 2010 to 2012 and Louisiana Tech University from 2007 to 2009.
The South Carolina Gamecocks football program represents the University of South Carolina in the sport of American football. The Gamecocks compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Eastern Division of the Southeastern Conference. The team's head coach is Shane Beamer. They play their home games at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Lynn Amedee is a former American football player and coach. He served as assistant at nine different colleges and as head coach at the University of Tennessee at Martin.
Robert Edgar Brodhead was an American gridiron football player, executive, and college athletics administrator. He was the athletic director at Louisiana State University (LSU) from 1982 to 1987. He is also the author of Sacked! The Dark Side of Sports at Louisiana State University (ISBN 0-9446790-0-5)
Coaches and media of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) bestow the following individual awards at the end of each college football season.
Mike Vaught is an athletic administrator at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona, being named to the position on October 15, 2014. He has previously served as deputy athletic director at Southern Methodist University and assistant athletic director at Rice University. Aside from athletic administration, Vaught has been an assistant football coach at University of Arkansas, Missouri State University, Texas State University and the United States Naval Academy. Prior to accepting the position at Grand Canyon, Vaught was the director of corporate sponsorship at AdvoCare.
The 1979 Tangerine Bowl was an American college football bowl game that was played on December 22, 1979 at Orlando Stadium in Orlando, Florida. The game matched the LSU Tigers against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. It was the final contest of the 1979 NCAA Division I-A football season for both teams. The game ended in a 34–10 victory for the Tigers.
The Ole Miss Rebels football team represents the University of Mississippi in the sport of American football. The Rebels compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Western Division of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). The football team was the first in the state of Mississippi when it was formed in 1893. The program ranks 26th on the list of college football's all-time winning programs. Ole Miss claims three national championships and six SEC championships. The Rebels are coached by Lane Kiffin.
The 2019 Ole Miss Rebels football team represented The University of Mississippi in the 2019 NCAA Division I FBS football season. The Rebels played their home games at Vaught–Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Mississippi and competed in the Western Division of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). They were led by third-year head coach Matt Luke.