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Are you an entrenched AD?

A group of athletic directors were recently discussing the status quo of "entrenched coaches"--individuals who: (1) haven't changed or improved their approach in many years; (2) are content with the status quo; or (3) do only the bare minimum.

One of the eight AD's kiddingly blurted, "Gee, sometimes I wonder if am one of them!"

The remark drew a number of laughs and caused a few others to wonder how many entrenched AD's they had in their ranks.

Obviously, an entrenched AD would have many of the same traits entrenched coaches, plus a few other traits such as:

1. Worn down after many years of service.

2. Inherently lazy.

3. Unimaginative in solving problems.

4. A good talker, but someone who accomplishes very little.

With a little more thought, it became obvious that all AD's could be divided into several general groups in addition to "Entrenched" or usually well-functioning AD's. You could also have "Maintenance AD's" or "Caretaker AD's." This group does the normal, daily tasks such as collecting payment vouchers, scheduling buses, scheduling non-league games, and attending contests.

While these caretaker AD's may do the normal, daily, mundane tasks, they don't go beyond them. Maintenance AD's rarely do anything extra that would take time, effort or energy. They basically put in their 7.5 hours per day and that's it.

The next step on the ladder is the "Manager AD." This person is conscientious, organized and takes care of all of the many details in an impeccable manner. The manager handles all of the tasks in a timely fashion, works hard, cares and generally appears to do a good job.

However, none of these three groups--entrenched, maintenance or manager--go beyond the basic tasks. Shouldn't an AD be a leader who develops new initiatives to improve his or her program?

The answer is, "Of course!" But this means expending a great deal of effort, possessing passion, being a visionary, and exhibiting perseverance.

These observations about the different groups of AD's raised some penetrating questions at the meeting. Can an Entrenched AD change and move up the ladder to eventually become an AD on the highest rung--a leader? If, yes, what steps need to be taken in order to make this transition?

Anyone desiring to move from being an entrenched AD to one who is more of a leader as an athletic administrator, may follow some of these suggestions:

1. Recognize that you may not be meeting the needs of your coaches, athletes, or program. This is the critical first step. What improvements or changes have you made recently in your program or to enhance your background that will ultimately lead to future growth in your program?

2. Stop making excuses. This is a must for any AD who is serious about becoming a better one. The easiest approach that many entrenched AD's take is to criticize or backstab others who are successful. They'd do well to roll up their sleeves and go to work.

3. Don't look at other programs or AD's in a critical manner, but try to learn something from them and then insert these new ideas into your program. There are a lot of good, successful AD's who would gladly help if you would only ask. But you have to start by asking them.

4. Understand that improvements will not take place overnight. Chances are that successful programs are built up over a number of years, but you have to start somewhere. Try to identify small goals that can be accomplished in 1-3 year increments and then add more and more as the years go by.

5. Surround yourself with positive, upbeat and energetic people--coaches, parents and volunteers. Let others help you develop an attitude that together "We CAN do it," instead of, "Well, that will never work." If you develop a team to develop a better program, there will be someone else around to help pick you up when facing difficulties and challenges.

6. Take advantage of the professional development opportunities that exist. Attend national and state professional conferences, take NIAAA (National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association) Leadership Training Courses, read professional journals or take graduate courses. You will come in contact with countless new ideas and approaches, and you will also be able to interact with successful AD's.

7. Be open to new approaches and ideas. Status quo cannot be an option. Over the last few years, technology and product advancements have occurred faster than at any time in history and you have to keep up with them.

8. Learn to think outside the box and develop creative approaches to solving problems. Many existing strategies have not worked. "It can't be done" is an approach that inhibits success. A new slant may be all that is needed to deal with a long-standing, existing dilemma or to open up new options.

While it may not be easy, entrenched AD's can improve. It really depends upon their perspective, willingness and desire. I However, one thing is definite. Our athletes and programs deserve the very best leadership.


Director of Athletics

Eastern Tech H.S., Baltimore County (MD)
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Title Annotation:athletic directors; A.D.Ministration
Author:Hoch, David
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Aug 1, 2003
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