Skip to Main Content

Athletic Directors


The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) was formed in 1905 to address violence in intercollegiate football. Around this time, the position of athletic director was formally created by college administrators who saw the need for experienced professionals to run their institutions' athletic programs.

After World War II, the NCAA began to regulate and monitor recruiting and financial-aid issues. With rule changes and NCAA regulation, college athletics blossomed in the second half of the 20th century. Athletic directors played an important role in the growth of collegiate athletics during this time, but it was not until the First and Second National Conferences on Athletic Administration in Colleges and Universities in 1959 and 1962, respectively, that these professionals began to take the first steps toward creating a professional organization.

At the third such conference in 1965, the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) was founded to serve the needs of athletic directors at junior and four-year colleges. The association boasts a membership of more than 15,700 individuals and approximately 1,700 institutions, including athletic directors and associate and assistant athletic directors at NCAA, National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), and National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) colleges throughout the United States.

In 1980, the Council of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators was created to enhance opportunities for women in intercollegiate athletics. To better represent its members, the council was renamed the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators (NACWAA) in 1992 and Women Leaders in College Sports in 2017. The NACWAA has about 3,500 members, including women and men.

Related Professions