High school athletic directors: An examination of the role, realities and career progressions

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Leadership


George Theoharis


High school, Athletic directors, Career progression, Female

Subject Categories



In this qualitative study of public high school athletic directors (ADs), the experiences and contacts of eight White ADs (four men and four women) that influenced their ability to attain (achieve) and retain (maintain) the AD position are examined, compared and analyzed, with a specific focus on gender. Specifically, this study examines the following three questions: (1) What experiences and/or contacts do high school ADs consider important in attaining their positions? (2) What experiences and/or contacts do high school ADs consider important in retaining their positions? (3) How do high school athletic directors' perceptions regarding their career paths compare across gender?

This study documents the experiences and contacts that ADs perceive as influential in attaining and retaining their AD positions. In this investigation gender similarities and differences regarding ADs career paths and progressions are compared and analyzed using the analytical frameworks of sex segregation, homologous reproduction, hegemony and gate keeping theory. These frameworks are drawn from the literature as social theories that may explain the gender imbalance that exists in athletic administration. In addition to providing further evidence of the disproportionate number of male and female high school athletic directors, this study documents the role of AD and provides evidence that female ADs are viewed as having a lack of presence, but not a lack of power. I conclude with implications for future ADs, current ADs and K-12 district administrators, as well as possible opportunities for future research.


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