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What is Athletic Administration?

Are you a principal, superintendent or aspiring athletic administrator?

This page is for you! Here, you will learn more about the NIAAA, interscholastic athletic administration, education-based athletics, why professional development is important for athletic administrators and so much more.


What is the NIAAA?

The National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) preserves, enhances and promotes educational-based athletics through the professional development of interscholastic athletic administrators.

Learn more about the NIAAA’s purpose, our Board of Directors and staff, our rich history and more.

What is interscholastic athletic administration?

Interscholastic athletic administrators provide leadership to education-based athletic programs and manage the details necessary for their successful day-to-day operation.

The role of the athletic administrator has changed dramatically over the decades of school-based sports growth, evolving into a significant professional administrative leadership position in schools throughout the United States and internationally.

Extending far beyond simply scheduling contests, coordinating transportation, hiring officials and workers, purchasing equipment and preparing facilities, athletic administration requires a significant amount of sport law knowledge, leadership skill and effective communication—all gained through education and experience at various levels of involvement in athletics.

Roles and responsibilities include promoting coaches’ education, student health, risk management, social impact, ethical considerations, and sound training principles and conduct codes.

Administrative duties extend beyond the school district to state, professional, conference and league cooperative efforts and policy enforcement pertaining to eligibility, tournament playoffs, certification and budget.

It is essential that athletic administrators serve as positive role models and expect from everyone a high degree of cooperation, integrity and fostering a strong work ethic. With all that the role entails, it is imperative that interscholastic athletic administrators are fully prepared to meet the educational challenges of their position.

What are education-based athletics?

Education-based athletics are an extension of the academic classroom—complementing the educational experience through teachable moments, invaluable life lessons and ample participation and competition opportunities for high school and middle school students in a safe environment.

We believe these school-based programs enhance the mission of schools and inherently make classrooms of our courts, courses, fields, pools and tracks.

While club, collegiate, and professional sports are focused on developing the best athletes, education-based athletics are focused on developing the whole person. An education-based athletic program must include at its core offering an avenue of student learning while stressing safety and well-being within all participation opportunities.

This philosophy sets school sport programs apart from non-school programs by emphasizing positive student behavior, learning qualities of cooperativeness, and being a good teammate.

Why is professional development important for athletic administrators?

Just like teachers, principals and superintendents, athletic administrators need ongoing training to best serve in their role.

Consider this: What department in a high school has the highest potential for risk? Athletics.

It is the largest department in a lot of high schools. It has the most students participating in it. It has the most staff to manage. It might have the biggest budget to oversee. And it often gets the most attention in the community.

That’s why it is critical for athletic administrators to have ongoing professional development and leadership training to ensure they have the expertise they need to minimize risk and protect student-athletes, the athletic department and the school.

What are my next steps as a principal, superintendent or aspiring athletic administrator?

  • Learn more about the NIAAA’s Certification Program—providing professional development for athletic administrators with the opportunity to obtain up to six different levels of certification.
  • Our Leadership Training Institute (LTI) offers courses for athletic administrators to attain additional knowledge and expertise in their role, enhance their athletic department, and be better prepared to handle today’s biggest challenges in the profession.
  • Athletic administrators who join the NIAAA gain access to discounted courses, invaluable resources, best practices, $2 million in excess liability coverage and a supportive network of more than 15,000 athletic administrators. All for only $80/year!

Code of Ethics

Our Code of Ethics serves as a guide to support the day-to-day decision-making of an athletic administrator as they oversee one of the most visible and scrutinized aspects of the school community.

A Profile of 

Athletic Administration

This digital publication details the role of an athletic administrator, why professional development is important, how to evaluate an athletic administrator and an athletic program, and more.

Athletic Administrator 

Job Description and Evaluation

These documents provide a detailed job description for athletic administrators, outline the 14 legal duties of athletic personnel, and help supervisors understand what athletic administrators should be evaluated on. 

Feel free to edit to your school’s liking.

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