“Is he my boss? I don’t know”: The (Ambiguous) Role of the Sport Supervisor in NCAA Division I Intercollegiate Athletics

Ehren R. Green – Temple University
Meg G. Hancock – University of Louisville

Behind every intercollegiate athletic team is an often-unknown athletic administrator known as the sport supervisor (sport administrator). As middle managers, these administrators are key organizational connectors, connecting the individual team(s) to the department, and are vital to organizational success. Understanding the role of sport supervisor is crucial to the success of athletic departments. Thus, the purpose of this study was to define and understand the role of the sport supervisor in NCAA division I intercollegiate athletics utilizing role theory. Through a descriptive phenomenological approach, 22 participants (11 sport supervisors and 11 head coaches) from NCAA Division I institutions were interviewed. The findings from this study illuminate the complexity of the role of a sport supervisor as well as the lack of clarity around what the role is, who sets the expectations, and how the expectations align between a sport supervisor and head coach. The lack of clarity with the role can lead to role stress for both sport supervisors and head coaches as well as negatively impact organizations. This study provides a formal definition and understanding of the critical role of the sport supervisor in intercollegiate athletics helping bring clarity and guidance to practitioners and scholars.