Master of Science in Sport Management Online

Spotlight: Collegiate Athletic Administration Specialty

College athletics have changed a lot over the past few decades. For a long time, all you needed was a great coach. The coach recruited players, worked with the athletes and had dinner with alumni. It used to be pretty simple.

The times are changing. Revenues for Division 1A schools are in the hundreds of millions each year and college athletics have become a booming business.

No longer do universities hire old coaches as athletic administrators. Now they look for top executives, both inside and outside the realm of sports. It’s a business and right now, business is great.

When it comes to college athletics administration, no role is more important than the athletic director (AD). For those graduating with degrees in sport management, it’s one of the best top-level jobs available. If you’re straight out of the program, it’s unlikely you’ll land this top position right away, but jobs like assistant to the AD, finance manager and marketing manager can be obtained as stepping stones to a goal of becoming AD.

Whether you’re a collegiate athletic director or serving in a role that might one day lead you to become one, the skills learned while getting your sport management degree online will help you rise to the top of the big business that is collegiate athletic administration. It takes education and experience to specialize in athletic administration, but most important are the following foundational skills.


As the athletic director of a university, you need to know a lot more than just the rules pertaining to fields and courts. If your school is in a major athletic conference, you will be negotiating multimillion-dollar media rights deals. To be successful in this role, you must have a firm grasp of revenue distributions and viewer quotas. You most likely will also have to negotiate with the NCAA on a number of issues. Pay close attention to your studies in sport management, as the skills and theories you learn will provide the backbone of your tasks as AD.


Careers in high levels of athletic administration require excellent managerial skills. The highest paid public employees in several states are college coaches. These men and women are powerful people with important jobs who are used to getting what they want. As AD, it’s your job to manage and oversee them. Remember, the higher up the ladder of college sports you climb, the more eyes will be on you. In today’s college sports, billions of dollars are at play, and if your team isn’t winning, your job could be on the line. Top-notch management skills will be an asset.

Business Strategies

It’s nice to think college athletics is all about sportsmanship and entertaining the fans, but it’s about a lot more than that. Like all businesses, the bottom line comes down to money. Top university athletic directors must understand operational business planning as well as capital and investment budgeting. You’re likely to have financial offices available to crunch the numbers, but you’re the person in charge and you must utilize business strategies that best benefit the school.

Collegiate athletics is big business and those at the top of the ranks hold important positions that are vital to the success of the teams. Getting an online degree in sport management is a big step towards landing a job in athletic administration. The skills you learn while getting your degree will help you in whichever direction you choose to take.