Secondary School Athletic Administration Certification: State Oversights, Requirements, and Pressing Issues Athletic Directors Encounter

Christopher L. Gaddis, Western Kentucky University


The role of a secondary school athletic director is similar across the United States, although the required credentials for such a position vary immensely from state to state. The athletic administrator position was originally created to improve the oversight of the increasing demands of operating an athletic program. In the past, the number of sports and participants were much smaller than today. Because of this there has not always been a call for highly trained, educated, and experienced interscholastic athletic administrators. In this study, state executive directors/liaisons for the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association provided information regarding their states demographic data, educational practices, and athletic director (AD) requirements. Finally, the state executive directors/liaisons were asked to rate ten of the most pressing issues facing athletic administrators today. Responding states were divided into one of three groups based upon the number of athletic participants in the state. Results were analyzed through frequency distribution. Data indicated no significant differences among the three groups. Although 52.27% states reported athletic administrators are required to have bachelor’s degree, 41.86% indicated no certification of any kind is required to hold the AD position. Furthermore, only 34.09% of states recognize a master’s degree in sports administration for a rank change/salary increase, and less than 25% require any continued education/professional development for athletic administrators. The data seemed to indicate a need for states to begin to recognize the importance of educational and certification requirements for secondary school athletic administrators. The lack of uniformity across the United States regarding criteria used to seek and develop athletic administrators raises some concern. This inconsistency or lack of requirements indicates the need for refinement to enhance the professional integrity of secondary school athletic administration across the United States.