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November 7, 2018 • Athletic Administration

A.D.ministration: Facing time constraints, new responsibilities

high school football stadium
Photo: Erik Drost, Flickr

The athletic administrator’s position has always been hectic and occasionally overwhelming. There’s never enough time to complete everything that should be done during the average day or week. Even for the most hard working, organized athletic director, it’s still next to impossible.

In spite of these realities, athletic administrators nationwide are being asked to assume additional responsibilities while continuing to direct the athletic program. With tight budgets and reductions in staffs, superintendents and principals have to shuffle tasks and duties to other individuals to keep things operating. Unfortunately, athletic directors might be asked to add more to their plates.

While some athletic administrators have long had a combination of athletic and assistant principal responsibilities, other possibilities may now include:

  • Directing all activities including band, plays and anything that falls under the umbrella of extracurricular activities.
  • Scheduling all building use, which includes athletic facilities and the entire school complex.
  • Undertaking jobs far removed from athletics, such as the director of transportation or the director of testing. If there’s a need in the district, it could be added.

This may be unfair and difficult to handle. You can’t add more hours to the day, so you basically have three options.

Voicing concerns

First, sit down with your supervisor — the principal or superintendent. Detail what your normal day involves, and why additional responsibilities are unrealistic.

Start by making a list of your basic responsibilities or tasks that you’re responsible for during the week. While your supervisor knows that you run the athletic department, seldom do they really understand the scope and magnitude of what you do. It would be helpful to explain the time constraints or deadlines associated with submitting the eligibility reports each season, state tournaments, the postponements due to inclement weather, and other similar requirements.

Make sure to keep a daily time log that lists the major events you host each day and how many hours you invest. If you use a spreadsheet, you can easily total the hours you spend performing your duties each week. This can be helpful when explaining that you can’t possibly add more to your workload.

In spite of all your best efforts to explain why you’re overworked, you may still be handed additional responsibilities. Now what?

Learn and adapt

Meet with the person who originally handled these tasks to get a handle on what is involved with these new responsibilities. Try to gather any hints that help you be as effective and efficient as possible. It also would be a good time to get an estimate of how much time it normally takes to complete these new tasks.

Analyze your daily to-do lists and weekly schedules to see if you can better organize your time. You probably will have to find a way to free up a little more time. This is only common sense, since you still have your normal responsibilities in addition to your new ones.

As difficult as adding more responsibilities may have on you personally, there may be many more challenges for your spouse and children.

If possible, look to delegate. You might ask your coaches to complete some items themselves instead of relying on you to do them. While many athletic administrators want to do whatever they can to help their coaches, you may have to cut back a little due to your new responsibilities.

It’s also worth scheduling a meeting to try to negotiate with your supervisor. With the addition of new responsibilities, are there a few things on your plate that can now be picked up by someone else? While you may not immediately realize it, you do have an advantage. Your supervisor may not have another good alternative and needs you to undertake these additional responsibilities.

You might suggest to your supervisor that you have another alternative — moving on to another position within the district. You should be careful with this option and state it in a polite, professional and delicate manner. Don’t pose this as a threat. Present it as an option for you to consider. It’s also important to bring this alternative to your supervisor’s attention.

Job search

Your last option is a difficult one — moving on to another job at a different district. If additional responsibilities make you ineffective in your role, it can result in internal and external stress. After explaining to your supervisor the possibility of you leaving for another job, and there is no concessions or help coming, the future doesn’t look good.

Any decision to leave a position and move on to a new one should be based upon facts — listing the pros and cons — and never made in haste.

Start by determining if the additional responsibilities are a temporary situation, perhaps for only one year, or if they are expected to continue into the foreseeable future. Most individuals can adapt and handle a difficult schedule on a short-term basis. But that might not be a satisfactory long-term solution.

Think about leaving your athletic administration position to return to the classroom, if there are any potential openings. This move may mean a reduction in pay and giving up a job that you love. It also may relieve the stress of unrealistic expectations and unrelenting time constraints.

Take into account what ramifications a move to another position would have on your family. As difficult as adding more responsibilities may have on you personally, there may be many more challenges for your spouse and children. You need to consider the effect upon everyone.

Budget and staff cuts are a reality for many districts. That means giving responsibilities and duties to other personnel. If you’re caught in this situation, there are many things you must consider, not the least of which is time constraints. Think it through, prepare a strategy, and do what’s best for your family and your career.


David Hoch, CMAA, has 16 years of experience as a high school athletic director and served for 12 years as the executive director of the Maryland State Coaches Association. In 2000, the Maryland State Athletic Directors Association named him Athletic Director of the Year. His column, A.D.ministration, focuses on issues in athletic administration and appears regularly in Coach & Athletic Director magazine.


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