College Athletic Director Salaries

College athletic directors manage the success of their football teams.
College athletic directors manage the success of their football teams. (Image: Leon Halip/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images)

Athletic directors manage the sports activities within a college. They coordinate the schedules, budgets, staff and resources of sporting events and sports teams. In larger institutions, a chief director may preside over other directors who are in charge of each men’s and women’s program. Salaries depend on the job title as well as the size of the hiring institution.

Director of Athletics

The Director of Athletics is ultimately responsible for the success of the athletic program at a college, and reports directly to the president of the institution. Though athletic directors may have advanced degrees in physical education or other related subjects, it is their years of experience as a player and/or coach that gains them the position. They earned a median $98,086 for the 2010 to 2011 school year, according to the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR). The Associate Athletics Director, who assists the Director, makes a median $69,779 per year.

Other Directors

Associate Athletic Directors are equivalent to department heads, who report directly to the Director and Associate Director. Their salaries vary according to their department. The highest pay belongs to the Associate Athletic Director for Finance and Business, because of her responsibility for what are often millions of dollars in fund and budgets. She made a median $80,184 per year. The lowest salaries go to the Associate Athletic Director for Sports Information, who distributes information about sporting activities to the rest of the college and the public. He made a median $47,066 per year.


The type of educational institution also affects the salaries of athletic directors. For example, an Associate Athletic Director for Men’s Athletic Programs earned a median $137,721 per year at institutes that had Ph.D.s as their highest degrees. For those with master’s programs, the salary was $51,500 and for those with baccalaureate programs, the pay was $58,338. This compared to a median salary at all institutions of $74,485 per year. Two-year institutions typically do not have separate associate athletic directors, but only a Director of Athletics and one Associate Athletic Director. In two-year colleges, they made a median annual income of $67,975 and $57,810, respectively.

Highs and Lows

Below the Director and Associate Director, the highest-paid associate athletic directors were those for finance and business at doctoral institutions. Their salaries ran a median $101,252 per year. The lowest-paid were those for sports information/communication at baccalaureate colleges, with medians at $41,814 per year. Associate directors for men’s programs made more than those for women’s programs at all levels. For example, for all institutions, those overseeing men’s programs made a median $74,485 per year, while those in women’s programs made $65,000. For schools with baccalaureate programs, men’s programs’ directors got a median $58,338 per year, while those in women’s programs received $56,316.

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