Date of Award

Fall 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Curriculum, Instruction, and Leadership

First Advisor

Dawn Basinger


The focus of this study was to examine the paths to leadership of NCAA Division I female athletic directors. Over forty years after passing Title IX of the Education Amendments Act, female athletic directors still make up less than 10% of NCAA Division I athletic directors. This stagnant statistic along with a limited amount of existing research on the subject were the main catalysts for this investigation.

This study examined the career paths of eight NCAA Division I female athletic directors, paying particular attention to their personal and professional experiences that led to becoming a Division I athletic director. Critical Feminist Theory (CFT) was used as a theoretical framework for the study. A qualitative case study was conducted, using one-on-one phone interviews to elicit in-depth responses to open-ended interview questions. Through thematic coding analysis, interview data was coded, categorized and conceptualized to represent emergent core concepts related to the career paths and experience of NCAA Division I female athletic directors. The analysis revealed three core concepts: Relative Experience, Leadership and Support, and Overcoming Obstacles. Findings support existing research indicating that athletic director positions are obtained through work experience, networking and leadership. Findings also support existing research regarding the benefits of career mentoring for women. New findings reveal obstacles and gender inequities that Division I female athletic directors face and ways in which those obstacles may be overcome.