Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Sports Education Leadership


Sports Education Leadership

First Committee Member

Doris Watson

Second Committee Member

Jerry Hughes

Third Committee Member

Vicki Rosser

Graduate Faculty Representative

Nancy Lough

Number of Pages



This dissertation examined how the executive leadership model influenced the leadership and governance of intercollegiate athletics. The focus centered on understanding the role of Athletic Directors who concurrently serve as institutional Vice Presidents using the Social Constructivist framework. Qualitative analysis was utilized to achieve the kind of examination necessary to uncover the rich and in-depth perspectives of the participants. At the time of the study, there were 119 institutions housing NCAA Division IA athletic departments. Of the 119 distinct athletic departments, there were 17 athletic departments that employed an athletic director that had been appointed to the post of university vice president. The participants were selected based upon the following conditions: (A) they all held the post of athletic director and university vice president, (B) their affiliation with an NCAA designated BCS or FBS Conference, (C) their membership to a diverse demographic (e.g. ethnicity, educational attainment, and/or gender), (D) the size of their respective athletic departments. Using the social constructivist lens as the theoretical framework, this study sought to understand how these particular athletic directors developed their professional identity within this emerging model of leadership as well as how this model influenced the leadership and governance of intercollegiate athletics within the university. The interview questions focused on five main areas: (1) experience and skill as an athletic administrator; (2) policy making processes; (3) presidential involvement (4) the main issues surrounding intercollegiate athletics including, commercialization, academic reform, fiscal integrity, institutional control; and (5) the executive leadership model. In response to research question one, the study found that implementation of the executive model of leadership resulted in a dissolution of myopia for the athletic directors who concurrently served as vice president. It also resulted in the integration of the athletic director into the leadership and governance structure of the university and it promoted structural engagement into the institutional governance conversation. In connection with the second research question, the results demonstrated that this model was an education-based model, with evidence showing this model promoted the integration of the athletic department into the university governance structure. Lastly, the executive leadership model promoted transparency at the leadership level, thus accomplishing several of the reform goals advocated among groups such as the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.


Athletic administration; Athletic directors; College sports; Education; Intercollegiate athletics; Leadership; Social sciences; Sports administration; Universities and colleges — Administration


Educational Sociology | Higher Education Administration | Sports Studies

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




Incomplete paper data


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