Date of Completion


Embargo Period



sport management, intercollegiate athletics, leadership

Major Advisor

Laura Burton, Ph.D.

Associate Advisor

Jennifer Bruening, Ph.D.

Associate Advisor

Mansour Ndiaye, Ph.D.

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


Leadership is one of the primary critical attributes of any enterprise. Leaders within and outside of sport establish a guiding vision that communicates the organization's purpose, culture, structures, systems, and goals to organizational members in ways that motivate them to work on its behalf. The current study sought to determine the role of athletic director (AD) leadership on the performance of NCAA Division I FBS athletic departments. A sample of 363 staff members across 55 institutions provided information related to the ethical and authentic leadership practices of their athletic directors, the presence of high-performance work systems (HPWS) within their departments, their positive organizational behavior (POB) at work, and their level of value congruence with their ADs. These variables, along with three department-level variables (athletic revenue, athletic prestige, and academic reputation) were entered into a multi-level model of athletic and academic performance in athletic departments. Findings demonstrated connections between both forms of leadership on the POB of athletics staff, though staff members’ POB could not be tied to department performance. Additionally, HPWS mediated the connections between AD leadership behaviors and staff members POB. Furthermore, athletic revenue was found to be connected to the athletic performance of athletic departments, while the academic reputation of their universities was linked with their academic performance. Implications of these discoveries and of the research design employed in this study are discussed.