Jayden Olson

Date of Award

January 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Sandra Moritz


The responsibilities of being a first-year athletic director have never been greater. Although being an athletic director may seem like a simple, common job, no two people with the title of athletic director have the exact same responsibilities or tasks required of them. Furthermore, many athletic directors come from a variety of backgrounds. Due to these factors, a manual could be beneficial to all first-year athletic directors. A survey consisting of demographic questions, and questions relating to the top 10 most important things to know as a first-time athletic director, job preparedness, resources relating to the job of an athletic director, and advice they would give to a first-time athletic director was completed by 11 athletic directors who ranged in age from 39 to 66 years, worked at three levels of junior college (National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Divisions I, II, and III), and had 7 to 42 years of athletic administration experience. Four themes emerged around Philosophy and Leadership Style, Knowledge, People, and Mentors. Secondary analysis reiterated the value of previous job experience, finding a mentor, reading and doing research on the NJCAA and their institution, the value of getting to know everyone on the campus, the need for a strong philosophy, understanding how the rules change every year, and the importance of finding a strong staff that values loyalty. Based on this information, a manual for first-year athletic director success was created. The manual includes four sections: philosophy, knowledge, people and mentors and eight topics: having a philosophy/vision, style of communication, institutional knowledge, compliance knowledge, fundraising knowledge, budget knowledge, relationships amd management of athletic department, and knowing who and what mentors are. For each topic, there is a brief description, semi-edited quotes made by athletic directors, and a guidance/recommendations page. There is also a comprehensive link to resources at the end of the manual. The manual is a free resource that can help inexperienced athletic directors develop and thrive in their positions.