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Maureen P. Fitzgerald, Mary Ann D. Sagaria, and Barbara Nelson

This study used a sociological career trajectory model to examine the career patterns of 200 male and female NCAA Division I, II, and III athletic directors. A normative career pattern derived from the literature on athletic directors was posited to compare the histories of incumbent NCAA athletic directors (ADs). The actual career experiences of ADs challenged the norm of the posited five-position sequence that begins with collegiate athlete; progresses through high school coach, collegiate coach, and associate or assistant director; and culminates with athletic director. Competing as a collegiate athlete and coaching at the college level were the two most frequent experiences underpinning the AD position. Differences from the posited norms were most likely to be associated with directors of NCAA Division II and III institutions and with women.