If you love sports and want to work in the field of education, and make a positive impact on the lives of student-athletes, consider a career in community college athletic administration. This is a rewarding and challenging profession that involves overseeing the athletic programs and facilities of a community college, as well as supporting the academic success and well-being of student-athletes. The California Community College Athletic Association (3C2A), for example, serves approximately 24,000 student-athletes playing 25 sports on 112 campuses. One in every five community college students in the U.S. attends a California community college, and approximately half of all adult Californians have attended a California community college.
University of San Francisco Sport Management alumni reflect on the roles and opportunities that attracted them to community college athletic administration, and the opportunities for others in this rewarding career path.
Sport Management roles in Community Collegiate Athletics
There are a range of roles for sport management professionals in community college athletics, including with the 3C2A and member colleges. The 3C2A, which establishes the rules and regulations to administer intercollegiate athletic activities, is managed by a staff of six: Executive Director, Director of Membership Services, Director of Championships, Director of Communications, Assistant Director of Operations, and an Administrative Assistant.
The Executive Director is the CEO of the California Community College Athletic Association and is accountable to the Board. The Executive Director provides operations, administrative leadership and support of the Board and Management Council. The Director of Championships oversees the operations of all 26 state championships for the association, with the support of the respective sport Coaches Associations, also known as affiliate organizations. The Director of Communication works directly with the membership to ensure statistics for sports are collected per the Constitution and Bylaws of the association, and maintains the website and public communication on behalf of the association. The Assistant Director of Operations supports Championships and Communications, specifically social media, along with managing all live events such as the association’s fall conference and spring convention. The Administrative Assistant supports the team and membership on a variety of items such as the membership directory.
The Director of Membership Services is responsible for supporting the membership with the legislative and governance process. Prior to this staff role, Katherine Zedonis ‘04 had spent 17 years working in athletic compliance at Sacramento State and UC Davis, collaborating with NCAA staff and various conference office staffers: “I was interested in supporting intercollegiate athletics at system wide level and the 3C2A afforded me that opportunity. To now be involved with the association supporting all 112 athletic departments within the California community college system is a unique and special career move.”
At the member colleges there a wide range of athletic administration positions available, including Athletic Director, Associate Dean of Athletics/Kinesiology, Sports Information Director, Athletic Coordinator, Certified Athletic Trainers, and others. Similar to the NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA, these positions all contribute to the oversight, operations, and daily functioning of an intercollegiate athletic department. Community college athletic administrators are responsible for a variety of tasks, such as:
- Hiring, training, and evaluating coaches and staff
- Developing and managing budgets and fundraising activities
- Ensuring compliance with federal, state, and local regulations, as well as governing bodies
- Coordinating schedules, travel arrangements, and events for teams and individual athletes
- Promoting the athletic programs and achievements to the campus and the community
- Providing academic advising, counseling, and support services to student-athletes
- Fostering a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion among athletes, coaches, and staff.
Rebecca Ensing ‘23, who joined the 3C2A as Assistant Director of Operations before graduating, believes that being on site at the state championships is one of the best parts of her job: “Seeing our top performing athletes experience the joy and camaraderie of making it so far in competition is unmatched.” Zedonis ‘04 Agrees: “A bonus is seeing the coaches, sports medicine staff, sports information directors and administrators supporting our student-athletes to make it all possible.”
Applying for and Securing Community Collegiate Athletics Jobs
To become a community college athletic administrator, you typically need a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as sports management, physical education, or business administration. Some positions may require a master’s degree or higher. You also need relevant work experience in athletics, such as coaching, officiating, or managing. Additionally, you need strong leadership, communication, organizational, and problem-solving skills.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for a postsecondary education administrator in the United States is $96,910, although this includes some roles other than just community college athletic administrators. PayScale reports an average annual base salary for athletic directors of $78,641, with a range up to $123,000, while Salary.com and Indeed provide estimates around $115,000. These values may vary depending on factors such as location, education level, experience level, and employer.
The open positions within the California Community College Athletic Association are typically posted on its website, the association’s LinkedIn page, as well as on the individual campus websites. Interested students and alumni can also find open positions on the California Community Colleges Registry, and on HigherEdJobs.
The best way to apply is to locate an application on a specific campus website and go through their application process. The 3C2A team are also happy to connect students and alumni to opportunities, and provide insights into a particular position or athletic department.
For Zedonis ‘04: “The 3C2A tagline is: Providing Opportunities…Fulfilling Dreams! The California Community Colleges play an essential role within the state providing access to higher education that includes intercollegiate athletic opportunities. Supporting the mission of California Community Colleges is both a rewarding and fulfilling career path for Sport Management students. If you are seeking to impact the lives of students from all backgrounds by way of intercollegiate sport the 3C2A is for you!”