NCAA Athletic Conference Commissioners: Profiles and Career Paths

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Title: NCAA Athletic Conference Commissioners: Profiles and Career Paths
Author: Davis, Georgia Kay
Advisors: Dr. Heidi Grappendorf, Committee Chair
Dr. Jonathan Casper, Committee Member
Dr. Michelle Harrolle, Committee Member
Abstract: Abstract DAVIS, GEORGIA KAY. NCAA Athletic Conference Commissioners: Profiles and Career Paths. (Under the direction of Heidi Grappendorf.) Previous studies (Deller, 1993; Fitzgerald, 1990; Grappendorf, Lough, & Griffin, 2004; Parrish, 2003; Radlinksi, 2003; Smith, 2005) have analyzed the career paths and backgrounds of intercollegiate athletic administrators. However, a limited amount of research has examined the backgrounds of athletic conference commissioners, a distinct and separate cohort of collegiate athletic administrators. The purpose of my study was to identify any commonalities and normative career steps that may exist among conference commissioners, as well as reveal any non-commonalities that exist between males and females. The research was executed through an online survey that investigated the demographic and educational profiles, as well as career path progression of NCAA athletic conference commissioners. Career path progression and access discrimination were used as the theoretical basis for my study. Results indicated that the only normative career path step that existed for conference commissioners was in their start as student-athletes. Approximately 60% of participants reported starting their athletics careers as student-athletes, but beyond that there was no obvious order of career progression. Findings included the prevalence of journalism undergraduate degrees and experience in Sports Information that had not previously been noted for institutional athletic directors. Results revealed educational background and sport participation differences between males and females. However, other than the major under representation of females in the commissioner role, there were no particularly obvious differences in their career paths. Overall, there appeared to be a difference between institutional athletics directors and conference commissioners, in that the commissioners indicate a seemingly broader background in both educational degree area and experience. There was evidence of continued access discrimination for females on the path to becoming conference commissioners.
Date: 2009-03-04
Degree: MS
Discipline: Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management

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