Campus Location

Dallas Campus (Online)

Date of Award



Document Type



Organizational Leadership

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Committee Chair or Primary Advisor

Linda Wilson-Jones

Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor

Tim Sceggel

Third Committee Member or Committee Reader

Jerrel Moore


Historically, college athletics have advanced men over women in top leadership roles, sustaining gender hierarchy. Senior leadership positions within intercollegiate athletics, such as the athletic director or associate athletic director, are mainly held by White men. Women and racial minorities are considerably unrepresented in athletic director roles. In 2021, the National Collegiate Athletic Association reported that Black men held 13% of athletic director positions, whereas the role was held by 3% of Black women. Research indicated there are unique barriers that women of color experience as they strive to obtain the athletic director title. The barriers women of color experience affect diversity, equity, and inclusion in the athletic community as well as the number of Black women mentors and role models within the profession. This qualitative study explored the lived experiences, career challenges, and mentoring experiences of Black women at NCAA member institutions. A phenological approach was utilized to collect data from interviews with seven Black women athletic directors. Confidential, virtual, semistructured interviews were used, and the theoretical framework applied in the study was Black feminist thought. The emerged themes were revealed: (a) early exposure; (b) collegiate athletic mentors; (c) male-dominated industry and imposter syndrome; (d) navigating COVID-19 and chartering new paths; (e) athletic professional development programs; (f) angry Black woman stereotype and aggressiveness; (g) understanding one’s value and networking; (h) budgetary and fundraising experience; (i) biased hiring practices and growing the pipeline; (j) utilization of search firms with diversity, equity and inclusion focus; and (k) creation of Black female student-athlete pipeline. The findings from this study indicate that while Black women have made small strides in reaching the athletic director role, more attention and effort should be placed on the challenges and experiences that impact their paths.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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