Career Paths of Power Five Athletic Directors: A Social Network Analysis

Grace Dickman – University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
Jonathan A. Jensen – University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
Erianne Weight – University North Carolina – Chapel Hill

The purpose of this study is to explore the career paths of Division I Power Five athletic directors (ADs). More specifically, research questions include determining how many jobs it takes to become a Power Five AD, what the most common paths are to reach the Power Five AD position, quantifying the movements between institutions, and isolating the role that the institution plays in the hiring network. Using social network analysis (SNA), this research builds a network of institutions of higher learning that are connected by career position changes of current Power Five ADs. The goals of the study are to investigate whether there are patterns in career paths, and if certain institutions are hubs and authorities – schools that produce or hire candidates – for ADs. Results suggest that patterns in career paths have changed for ADs, and paths differ based on gender. The hubs in the network propelled ADs into high-ranking positions at their next institution, and authorities hired ADs in high positions. Influencers did not have a high volume of hires or ADs leaving for other jobs, but when they did, it was usually either at the senior associate AD level or AD level.