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5 tips for filling athletic department positions

Kurt Patberg, Ph.D

Kurt Patberg, Ph.D

VP of Consulting

It’s not news to anyone working in collegiate athletics: Traditional methods of filling open positions are not as effective.  


Blame Covid. The pandemic prompted unexpected early retirements and mass exodus from athletic departments nationwide. Individuals remaining seized opportunities for promotions, creating a domino effect of less-prepared hires stepping into roles. 


The job market became a complex chessboard. Competition for skilled athletic administrators, coaches, and sports information directors remains tougher than ever. Many of the most talented athletics professionals aren't actively seeking new opportunities. They're not on the job boards. Not sending out applications. Instead, they’re thriving where they are.  

Tapping into this pool requires a new approach. Here’s how to help your program find the right talent to provide leadership, administer your department, engage donors, attract top recruits, and increase your team’s winning percentage.  


1. Maximize Networking

Attend conferences, engage on social media platforms, and participate in discussions whenever available.

The best candidates might not be actively seeking, but they are often part of professional networks.


2. Highlight Your Institution’s Values

Make sure your organization stands out. Showcase your unique values, culture, and commitment to professional development in your social posts, news releases, and materials.

Talented individuals are more likely to consider a move if they admire your organization's principles.


3. Encourage Employee Referrals

Your current team members might be connected to exceptional individuals who aren't actively job hunting.

Encourage and incentivize referrals to catch the interest of candidates who may not have otherwise considered a move.


4. Write Compelling Job Descriptions

When you post openings, focus on crafting job descriptions that not only detail responsibilities but speak to the employee in your institution’s unique brand language.

Don’t be afraid to highlight unconventional benefits, opportunities for growth, and ways the right candidate can make an impact and grow within your athletic department.


5. Use An Athletics Search Firm

Understand the strengths of search firms and use them as strategic partners. They can help identify and approach top talent.

About 80% of athletic department positions I’ve helped recruit for since 2013 were filled by candidates who didn't independently apply. In the post-Covid era, this number has only increased. 


The best candidates aren’t looking, they’re found.



Kurt Patberg is VP of Consulting

-Over 40 years collegiate athletic experience

-More than 12 years of collegiate consulting experience, Athletics Staffing and Consulting

-16-year Commissioner, NCAA DII, DIII, NAIA

-Commissioner -- Southern States Athletic Conference

-Commissioner -- Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference

-Commissioner -- Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference



Call or text: 404.434.5146



















Youth baseball player

Collegiate athletic departments continue to have trouble filling open positions in the post-Covid era.

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