Athletic Directors Key to a Basketball Coach’s Success?

10 Things to Look for in an A.D.

Coaches by our very nature do not like to “kiss-up” to other individuals. We want to sink or swim on our own. Yet, the truth of the matter is our Athletic Director may hold the key to the success of our program, if not our job. The hard truth of the matter is a head coach must have a positive working relationship with the Athletic Director. I have learned the hard way the truth of this statement.

Many Athletic Directors have no real understanding of our sport, and in many cases, have a direct interest in seeing our sport NOT be as successful as it could be (competition for athletes). Still others view a successful program as more work for them. Last of all, and perhaps the most important factor, some Athletic Directors do not want a coach who takes stands or plays a system that is out of the ordinary. Why? The A.D. does not want to deal with the inevitable barrage of parental phone calls.


Some factors to consider when hunting for a job should include a careful background check of both the school administrator and the Athletic Director. I have been guilty of wanting a job so badly I ignored the obvious warning signs indicating a lack of administrative support for what I hoped to accomplish and what had to be done for that to happen. Don’t make the mistake I did which resulted in a short tenure.

Let me say up front, I have worked for some great Athletic Directors. A.J. Talamo and Mickey Riggs are two of the best Sports Administrators I have ever known. Coach Talamo wanted every team, athlete and coach under his supervision to succeed and was determined to make sure funds and equipment were available to make success possible. He had an astute business sense that allowed his athletic department to maximize revenue and make the best possible use of funds available. Coach Riggs was a tireless worker who loved athletics and had a deep respect for the positive aspects of athletic competition in an educational setting. Coach Riggs was also one of the best event coordinators I have ever worked with. Nobody could host an athletic event, regardless of sport, better than Coach Riggs.

Not every A.D. is in the same league as these two gentlemen.

Things to look for in an A.D. when “interviewing” a school:

1) Can you work closely with the individual and develop a positive, two-way working relationship?
2) What kind of work ethic does this individual possess? Will he/she work as tirelessly as you for your program to succeed?
3) Does the A.D. have a track record of standing up for the coaches he/she supervises?
4) Does the A.D. serve as the head coach of a sport that will compete directly for athletes who play basketball?
5) How much control over key elements (season scheduling, gym usage, etc.) will the A.D. grant you?
6) Is the A.D. organized and efficient?
7) Will the A.D. support what you plan for your program?
8) Will the A.D. back you with problem parents if you are in the right?
9) When conflicts occur, and they will, how will the A.D. resolve the underlying issues?
10) Most important of all, what kind of character does this individual possess?

While I would hesitate to include this in the ten traits, it can be beneficial to have an A.D. who coaches the other gender’s basketball team. It can also be a problem if you play a completely different style or have more success. If the two of you get along well and want to promote the sport, it can be an ideal situation.

Having the right A.D. to work with can make all the difference in the world. The wrong A.D. can result in you looking for work elsewhere in a hurry.

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