Mike Voight, Ph.D.
Central Connecticut State University
PEHP Kaiser Gym 1804
New Britain, CT 06050

Ann Hickey, Ph.D.
Whittier College
Whittier, CA

Author Note
Correspondence regarding this article should be directed to the first author at

DIY Sport Leadership Development Academies & Institutes:
An Investigation of NCAA Division I Athletic Departments

Over the past decade, leadership development (LD) has been a popular pursuit in collegiate athletics. In 2004, the first leadership development program, or academy, in collegiate athletics was the Carolina Leadership Academy ( Even the governing body, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), has instituted formal LD programming for student-athletes, coaches, and administrators (NCAA, 2016). At individual universities, there has been an increase in the adoption of leadership development (LD) initiatives across NCAA Division I athletic departments. The general purpose of this investigation was to search for then analyze NCAA Division I athletic departments who have implemented “in-house” DIY LD programs and academies. A content analysis of the departmental websites was conducted (similar to the methodology employed by Hayden, Kornspan, Bruback, Parent, & Rodgers, 2013), to gain a frequency of the number of LD programs offered, the names of the LD initiatives, the nature of the facilitator positions, the mission and particular programming, and uniqueness’s of each program. A total of sixty-two LD academies were revealed, which consists of a range of program types, including monthly workshops and/or guest speakers for selected student-athletes, to programs for different classes (e.g., freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors), to programs specific to team captains, even fully integrated leadership processes which includes courses, mentoring, service projects, and global citizenship challenges. Future directions in leadership academy research include a more thorough review of programming, qualitative analysis of experiences and curricula, and a greater emphasis on evaluating the effectiveness of the LD initiatives.

Review of Literature
Over the past decade, leadership development (LD) has been a popular topic in U.S. collegiate athletics. Even the governing body, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), has instituted formal LD programming for student-athletes, coaches, and administrators These programs include education and training for college athletes and coaches. On the NCAA website (NCAA, 2016), it states, “NCAA leadership development provides education and training for college athletes, coaches and administrators to assist with the transition to life after college sports, to foster the growth of the next generation of leaders and to encourage athletics administrators to translate lessons learned through competition. Workshops are also available for administrators to develop their skills and advance their careers. At individual universities, there has been an increase in the adoption of leadership development (LD) initiatives across NCAA Division I athletic departments and for good reason. Many sources reveal the benefits of teaching and developing leadership skills and practices of the college-aged student, including that effective leaders of sport teams improve teamwork, challenge teammates to adhere to team rules and standards, reinforce coach teachings and strategy instruction, helps keep the practice climate productive and energetic, in addition to learning important personal leadership skills of conflict management, effective communication practices, ethical behaviors and attitudes, openness to new ideas, developing/living one’s own vision, practice critical thinking and setting challenging goals, and the importance of being lifelong learners (Bennis & Goldsmith, 2010; Elmore, 2010; Gill, 2006; Maxwell, 2002; Morgan, 2015; Scott, 2014; Vealey, 2005; Voight, 2014). Champion football coach, Urban Meyer, in his book, Above the Line, underlines the importance of leadership development in this quote; “The defining characteristic of every championship team is leadership. Leadership isn’t a difference maker, it is the difference maker. Talent will get you about seven or eight wins. Discipline pushes it to nine wins maybe. But when you add leadership, that’s when magic happens” (p. 1).

According to anecdotal evidence, the first leadership development program, or academy, initiated in collegiate athletics was the Carolina Leadership Academy (Richard Baddour Carolina Leadership Academy, 2016). This academy was facilitated by a commercial LD company who was contracted for monthly workshops with emerging and veteran student-athlete leaders. Since, this model has been applied to other Division I athletic departments. Many shortcomings of outsourcing LD to commercial companies have been identified, including the high cost, that external companies do not know the university/department’s philosophies, traditions, or vision, that the one-size-fits-all, canned programs are not near as effective as integrated processes, team-bonding activities (like balloon relay) is not LD, skill training is also not the same as developing leadership skills, insufficient practice time for true development of LD skills, and a lack of follow-up and follow-through (Ferrie, 2000; Goldsmith & Morgan, 2004; Goleman, Boyatzis & McKee, 2002; Myatt, 2013; Voight, 2016). Due to these limitations, college athletic departments have begun to implement their own, do-it-yourself (DIY) leadership academies, institutes or programs, so thus, are insourcing using their own people and resources to develop their student-athlete leaders rather than outsourcing them to a commercial company.

The general purpose of this investigation was to search for then analyze NCAA Division I athletic department coaches and administrators who have implemented “in-house” DIY LD programs and academies. This information will showcase the work, or “best practices” being done within collegiate athletics to develop student-athlete leadership via DIY leadership initiatives. To conduct this study, an approach similar to the methodology used by Hayden, Kornspan, Bruback, Parent, & Rodgers (2013) in their study investigating the prevalence of sport psychologists in athletic departments was adopted. As stated by these researchers, a content analysis of websites can be a valuable method of gathering pertinent information: “A content analysis of websites, on the other hand, provides a snapshot of what departments and programs themselves are conveying about their services to their constituencies (p. 297).” These researchers also chose this methodology due to the challenge of getting respondents to complete surveys. Making use of this same methodology is warranted in discovering the frequency of LD academies among this same population of athletic departments. Thus, this study will determine which athletic departments support LD programming or academies, the names of the programs, the nature of the facilitator positions, the mission and particular programming, and uniqueness’s of each program.

NCAA Division I athletic departments were identified and contacted primarily through web searches and email blasts. It was believed that Division I athletic departments would house the majority of the in-house, do-it-yourself (DIY) leadership academies as they have much larger budgets and more personnel and resources than NCAA Division II, III and NAIA institutions. Those athletic department LD programs who met the following criteria were included for further inquiry: conduct the leadership development interventions themselves (DIY), been in operation for at least two years with plans for continued programming, while valuing action learning initiatives, assessment, practice, follow-up, and mentoring. There were a total of sixty-two NCAA Division I athletic departments who met the criteria and were researched further to ascertain specifics about their programs and processes. Table 1 reveals the names of these departments who facilitate a DIY LD process, along with which athletic conference they belong. In total, 19 (of the 22 analyzed) athletic conferences are represented, totaling 244 athletic departments. The average number of years they have been in existence is 4.3 years, ranging from 2 to 9 years. The oldest known LD, the Rosenthal Leadership Academy at the University of Notre Dame, opened in 2002. The start date of thirteen programs was not identified on the website or via the emailed open-ended questions.

The purpose of this investigation was to analyze Division I university athletic departments for their use of “in-house” leadership academies or programs designed to improve personal and team leadership. In particular, once it was determined that a program existed, additional information was sought, including the start date, what type of position facilitates the program, such as if it is a new position specific for LD delivery or is the LD adsorbed into a present position, as well as the name of the position, the home department within the athletic department (e.g., Student Development, Counseling, Academics, Life Skills), and specifics about the program and its delivery.

The process of web searching hundreds of Division I university athletic department websites began with identifying the Division I institutions by athletic conference affiliation. In total, twenty-two of the thirty-two conferences were analyzed. These conferences included 11 FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision), 8 FCS (Football Championship Subdivision), and 3 non-FBS/FCS-affiliated Division I conferences. For those university athletic departments that indicated on their website information about a sponsored LD program, an appropriate athletic department official was identified (e.g., Director of LD, Life Skills Coordinator, Director of Academic Services, Student Athlete Development) and was emailed an introductory letter that included the study purpose and questions. The questions included origins of the program, primary facilitators, population addressed, objectives, highlights of the LD curriculum, sample implementation schedule, effectiveness methods, challenges faced, lessons learned, and knowledge of any other LDs. Some referrals (N=12) yielded finding some additional LD programs, and in some cases, follow-up phone conversations (N=4) occurred which yielded some additional information. Due to an overall disappointing return of emailed responses, follow-up emails were conducted, which only yielded 3 additional responses. In lieu of hearing back from so few administrators, the information that was published about the LD program on the department website was primarily used to complete the profile for each LD program, similar to the Hayden et al. (2013) study. In total, only 15 administrators returned the emailed responses.

Data Analysis
To gain a more in-depth understanding of the LD academies hosted and facilitated by the Division I athletic departments offering them, a content analysis was conducted, specifically the use of coding themes that was deemed relevant in discussions between the two authors which allowed both the website and open-ended survey responses to be analyzed in a systematic manner, similar to the methods used by Krippendorff (1980). Both authors have experience in content analysis and case study research, so each coded their own themes after analyzing the open-ended question responses and website data, and after many discussions, a consensus of what was most pertinent to the study was reached and included in the tables to follow, which include: name of program, mission statement, types of programming, and exemplar services. For the logistical themes, the following was ascertained and included in the tables as well: director/facilitators of LD, the office that supervises-supports the program, the type of position (newly created or was the LD absorbed into a present position), and the home department within athletics.

Examination of the information retrieved from the content analyses of the websites and supplemental information from the open-ended responses revealed a myriad of different LD initiatives among the 62 (out of 244 athletic departments), ranging from monthly workshops and/or guest speakers for selected student-athletes, to programs for different classes (e.g., freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors), to programs specific to team captains, even fully integrated leadership processes which includes courses, mentoring, service projects, and global citizenship challenges. The level of creativity, depth, and innovation, especially among some of these DIY LD initiatives, is impressive enough to see why these departments insource rather thanoutsource their LD. Similarly with Males et al. (2006) and Voight (2012), the Results and Discussion section is organized into four distinct themes: (a) frequency of LD academies or programming across Division I; (b) the logistics of supporting LD, specifically, the different types of LD positions and their specific departments within athletics; (c) program information and the exemplar aspects of the specific LD processes; (d) study limitations and future directions.

Frequency of LD Academies
Of those researched, 62 NCAA Division I athletic departments used some form of leadership development, which represents 25% of those analyzed. As noted in Table 1, nineteen different athletic conferences are represented, with the ACC and Big 10 conferences having the most (8), followed by the Big 12 and SEC conferences (7), then the PAC 12 conference (6). Of note were the conferences outside of the “Power 5” that support LD academies despite not having the financial resources that the Power 5 does, such as the American Athletic Conference, Patriot League, and the Sun Belt conference. The Patriot League, the only conference to sponsor a conference-wide LD series which is facilitated by a commercial LD company, focuses on four topics: personal strengths, qualities and types of leadership, and interpersonal relationship skills. This series began in the spring of 2012. The Patriot League athletic departments included here instituted university and department-specific LD programming which goes over and above the limited scope of the LD series.

Logistics: Types of LD Process Positions
As can be seen in Table 2, there are a variety of job titles and positions specific to facilitating the LD within the 62 Division I athletic departments. The majority of positions are absorbed into one’s current position (39), such as within the duties of the Assistant Athletic Director or Director of Student Athlete Development. It was not possible to ascertain how much of these professionals’ daily/weekly hours were dedicated towards facilitating the LD program, yet it was evident based on the bios listed on the website that the LD program was only part of job responsibilities of these positions.

The next most frequent type of LD position is one that is LD Specific (16), with a title such as Director of LD Program. This position, from the information gathered from the respective websites and open-ended question feedback, represents full-time positions created specifically for the operation of the LD program. These full-time, LD-specific positions did not even exist seven years ago. From what could be ascertained from the website and information received, these full-time positions were accountable for the following varied responsibilities:

  1. Academic coursework: teach transitional, life skills and/or leadership courses across the four classes (freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors), even fifth year student-athletes.
  2. Career enhancement: Organize career fairs and panels, resume writing and mock interviews, job shadows and job placement, and even internships, like the Bucks Go Pro program at Ohio State University where 25-30 student-athletes intern in the athletic department.
  3. Guest speaker series: Schedule guest speakers and keynotes for forums, seminars, lectures, panels, and workshops.
  4. Individual assessments: Assessing leadership skills via standardized surveys, 360-degree assessments, strengths-based assessments, and individual coaching/mentoring.
  5. Facilitate small group discussions: Peer networking, discussions (especially among team captains), problem solving, case studies, role-play scenarios, and leadership-specific tasks, such as creating standards, team goals, team rules, and methods of problem-solving and accountability procedures.
  6. Team building activities: Facilitate team bonding, adventure and challenge programming, and experiential LD activities, including overnight and weekend retreats.
  7. Community Engagement (CE): Facilitate and schedule community services events and projects, including teaching leadership skills to junior high and high school students like they do at Georgetown University. Many of the LDs do extraordinary work with CE on campus and within the surrounding communities.
  8. Civic Engagement: Organize domestic and international immersion trips, such as Immersion trips (Boston College), Knights Without Borders (University of Central Florida), and Beavers Without Borders (Oregon State), and service projects.
  9. Organize alumni relations: Utilize student-athlete alumni to “give back” to their institutions and foster leadership collaboration, like the Senior Athlete Interactive Leadership Experience (S.A.I.L) program at Duke University and the Varsity OSU program and their Future’s Forums at Oregon State.
  10. LD Workshops: Schedule or facilitate leadership-specific workshops on all sorts of topics, including foundations of leadership, transformational leadership, strengths-based leadership, emotional intelligence, interpersonal relations and connections, leadership skills, tactics, ethical practices, and character-development, locker room climate, culture of leadership, and so many others, including personal brand development (University of Kansas).
  11. Special events: Organizing luncheons (like the C. Clyde Jones Career Cat Luncheon at Kansas State), award nights, faculty appreciation nights (Vermont), socials, dinners, tables (the Captain’s Table at Oregon State), corners (Captain’s Corners at USC) breakfasts (Breakfast of Champions to discuss leadership at Oregon State), orientation BBQs, certification programs (Washington State and Wisconsin), and other events highlighting the program and its participants.
  12. Student-athlete development workshops: Assist in implementing life skill workshops and seminars addressing drugs/alcohol, violence, promoting responsible choices, alcohol and consent issues, health and wellness, social media management, fiscal planning, diversity and inclusion, transitional issues, and other assorted topics.

The remaining types of positions fall into the categories of Academic (2), General Leadership (1), Head Coaches (1), or unknown (1).

Programming and Exemplars
Table 3 highlights the specific types of programs offered by each of these LDs, in addition to what each is called, its mission, and what makes each one unique. The institutions were included here in detail so the reader could access the respective athletic website for more information about the LD if interested. As the majority of the institutions have information about the LD listed on the website, this material is considered public domain and thus was added to this table.

Using the word “academy” was the most popular method of naming their specific LD initiative [25]. Another common term used to name these programs was leadership “institute” (10). In addition, some programs are named after specific people or sponsors (12), such as the Kiphuth Leadership Academy at Yale, the Katharine and Robert Devlin S-AFE and Leadership Development Program at Boston College, and the Cooper Athletics Leadership Program at Georgetown University. The remaining programs (22) use a variety of program names.

As far as the mission of each LD program, many focus on developing SA leadership skills not only in athletics but also in academics and in life. Many recognize the importance of developing the total person to enhance the SA experience and create strong leaders beyond the athletic arena. Some programs also emphasize service and community outreach and developing community ambassadors, such as Arkansas State and Tulane. Still others include leadership development of the coaches and athletic department administration (ex. Duke, Arkansas). The mission may also be based on well-known leaders, such as at UCLA in the Wooden Academy with its mission focused on teaching the values and principles of John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success.

The programming for many LD programs is organized by either year in school (freshmen, sophomore, juniors, seniors) or use titles such as emerging and veteran leaders. There are 17 programs that are more inclusive with programming starting in the freshman year and continuing through senior year. Other programs (6) are more selective and only have a limited number of SA’s in the LD program. Common components of these programs includes: seminars/workshops/guest speakers (21), career development (11), and community service (6). The frequency varies from a couple of seminars per year to a four-year developmental curriculum. Twelve programs include coursework as a part of the LD curriculum and after completing the LD program, six programs award SA’s a leadership certificate. In addition, some programs include mentoring area school children and teaching leadership skills to local scholastic students. Also, coaches programs are included in a couple LD programs to develop the leadership skills of the coaching staff (3).

Several LD programs have unique features that differentiate them from other programs. North Carolina is the first of its kind and has 7900 hours invested in leadership development of SAs. The mission of the Carolina Leadership Academy is to develop, challenge, and support SAs, coaches, and staff in their quest to become world-class leaders. The Leadership Program at Indiana University is an innovative, comprehensive SA development program. This program is organized into three levels: Emerging, Elite, and Executive. A unique feature at Georgetown University is the opportunity for collaborative research with external experts. In addition, the Cooper Athletics Leadership Program strives to ensure the overall development of SAs through their participation in athletics with a four year series of Hoyas Lead courses. Another part of the program includes teaching leadership skills to local scholastic students.

At the Derek Smith Leadership Academy & LCare program at Louisville, SAs are required to earn points to graduate from one phase of the program to the next. The program includes four phases: Emerging, Established, Experienced, and Engaged Leaders. The Duke Athletic Leadership Program seeks to develop and enhance the leadership skills of not only student-athletes, but also coaches and athletic department administrators. Assessment is important to gain a better understanding of how well a program is working and at Kentucky, assessment is a key part of the programming. Clear links between activities performed and outcomes are developed. A unique feature of this program is the use of tablet-based exercises through APTUS. Finally, two programs focus on the values and principles of John Wooden. Both UCLA and Purdue base their LD program on Wooden’s Pyramid of Success.

Study Limitations and Future Directions
The first limitation to this study is that despite the authors’ best efforts, an athletic department’s LD academy could have been missed for several reasons. As every attempt was made to be accurate in the analyzing of athletic department websites, the authors could have simply missed the link to the specific department sponsored LD. In the websites containing information about the LD program, it either had a link from the main webpage or directory, or there was a secondary link through “Student-Athlete Development,” “Student Services,” “Life Skills,” “Academic Services,” or even “Student-Athlete Excellence.” Detailed information about the LD program could simply have been omitted from the website for whatever reason, so what the authors noted may not best represent the LD and all that it offers. The authors assumed that what was listed on the websites about the specific LD initiative was valid and accurate. Any embellishment of the programming is beyond our control.

Another possibility could simply have been that the department sponsors a LD process but failed to promote it via their website. Also, the authors’ could have sent the email questions to the wrong administrator or the administrator on record may have moved on and another hired which could have contributed to the low response return rate. Lastly, since not every Division I institution was analyzed (10 conferences and their institutions were not analyzed), some could simply have been missed due to this oversight.

Moreover, there were some athletic departments who just initiated LD programming and fell outside of the inclusion criteria of being in operation for at least two years. For example, the University of Cincinnati athletics, North Carolina Central University athletics, and Stanford University athletics are upstarts, and there could be many more out there who are in the launch or pre-launch stages. Some are even under renovation, like the LD process at the University of Central Florida, so the current information listed herein could be outdated.

Future directions in the research of LD academies among Division I athletic departments could be a more thorough review of what the programs do and especially how they are evaluated to determine their effectiveness. This is a glaring weakness of the majority of these DIY LD academies. Two LD programs in particular have put a premium on measuring effectiveness, Georgetown University and Kansas State University. Both utilize yearly qualitative and quantitative assessments with all involved constituents, and time is spent reviewing them to determine areas of strengths and what could be improved. More attention should be devoted to developing evaluative measures for these programs, much like they do in the business world, especially if the goal is to continue to keep the LD in operation and serving the needs of those who need it.

Additional research should be conducted on interviewing the facilitators of LD academies to gain a more in-depth understanding of the exact programming, the week-to-week, day-to-day responsibilities, educational curricula, action learning activities, lessons learned from past programming, and future directions of LD. Another suggestion would be to follow-up with the established LD programs after a certain length of time to gauge adjustments made to the program, and even to survey other athletic departments, especially those from the other divisions (e.g., Division II, III, NAIA, junior college) to ascertain differences in programming and best practices.

Another important area of future research should include analyzing the academic and leadership experiences of those who are facilitating these LD initiatives. Specific indices of experience could include educational major, sport background, leadership experiences within and outside of sport, professional organizations and conferences attended, and any published books or articles on the topic of leadership. At an initial glance, it appears there is a lot of variability among those holding such positions according to the bios (many websites did not include bios), from those who have a wealth of experience in athletics and leadership, with some even coming from the military or military academies, to those who moved into the position shortly after finishing their undergraduate and/or master’s degrees. Since sport LD programs are in their infancy, it is so very important that these programs look to experienced, knowledgeable, and competent facilitators to give the very best leadership instruction, on-the-job opportunities, and action learning experiences to the student-athletes and coaches taking part in them so the vision and objectives of these programs are met, and thus, can continue to develop good and effective leaders for the present day and future.

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Table 1

Conference Affiliation, Leadership Development Academies (LDAs) & DIY Universities

Athletic Conference (19) # LDAs DIY Universities
AAC 3 Central Florida, Houston, Tulane
ACC 8 Boston College, Duke, Florida State, Louisville, Maryland, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech
ATLANTIC SUN 1 Kennesaw State
ATLANTIC 10 1 Davidson
BIG 10 8 Indiana, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Purdue, Penn State, Rutgers, Wisconsin
BIG 12 7 Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Christian, Texas Tech
BIG EAST 4 Georgetown, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Villanova
IVY 2 Cornell, Yale
METRO 1 Rider
OVC 1 Tennessee Tech
PAC 12 6 Colorado, Oregon, Oregon State, Southern Cal, UCLA, Washington State
PATRIOT* 5 American, Bucknell, Buffalo, Lafayette, Lehigh
SEC 7 Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mizzouri, Tennessee
SOUTHERN 1 Samford
SUNBELT 3 Appalachian State, Arkansas State, New Orleans

Notes: ACC = Atlantic Coast Conference; AAC = American Athletic Conference; MAC = Mid American Conference; OVC= Ohio Valley Conference; SEC = Southeastern Conference;
* The Patriot Conference has an agreement w/ a commercial LD company, yet these university athletic departments expand on what is offered by the limited, one-size-fits-all programming of the commercial LD company

Table 2

Positional Specifics of NCAA Division I University Athletic Departments Leadership Development (LD) Academies

Type of Positions Frequency Positional Names Department Within Athletics
[1] LD Absorbed into current position 41

Asst. Director
Dir. of SA Dev’t
Dir. of Learning R’s
Asst. AD
Director of SA Lship
Asst. AD
Assoc. AD
Dir. of Lship Academy
Lship/Life Skills Adv.
Asst. AD
AD for Life Skills
Asst. Director
Assoc. AD
Asst. AD
Asst. AD
Assoc. AD
Senior Assoc. AD
Asst. AD
Asst. AD
Assoc. AD
Asst. Director
Deputy AD
SA Dev’t Asst. 
Academic Adv.
Asst. AD
Asst. AD
Asst. AD
Assoc. AD
Asst. Dir.
Asst. AD
Asst. AD & Sp Psych

Acad. Suppt. & Access Ctr.
SA Development
Learning Resources for SAs
SA Excellence
SA Development
Student Services
SA Development
SA Development
Academic Services
SA Dev ’t/Lship Training
Life Skills
SA Development
SA Development
Life Skills/Career Dev ’t
SA Development
Life Skills
Student Enrichment
Academic & Stu Dev’t
SA Development
SA Development/Life Skills
SA Development
SA Development
Stu Services-Acad. Enrich.
SA Acad. Services
SA Development
Stu. Dev’t for Athletes
SA Dev. Services
S-aFE Center
SA Counseling
SA & Staff Development
SA Development
SA Development
[2] LD Specific 16

Career & LD Coord.
Dir. of SA LD
Dir. of Lship Academy
Assoc. AD Lship
Dir. of Lship/Career Dev’t
Dir. of LD Program
Dir of Lship Institute
Dir. of SA Lship/Dev’t
Lship Academy Dir.
Leadership Advisor
Dir. of Lship Dev’t for SAs

SA Enhancement
SA Development
SA Welfare & Dev’t
Cntr. for Sport Lship
Impact Lship Program
Athlete Lship Dev ’t
Leadership Academy
Student Services
Cntr. for Sport Lship
Leadership Academy
Academic Services
[3] Academic 2


Hospitality & Sport Mgt.
Physical Education
[4] General Lship 1

Director for Ctr. for Lship

Lship Dev’t Program for Athletes
[5] Head Coaches 1   University of Florida
[6] Unknown 1   Acad. & Stu. Services

Notes: Absorbed = LD is absorbed into the positional responsibilities of this professional; Acad. = Academic; AD = Athletic Director; Adv = Advisor; Assoc. = Associate; Cntr. = Center; Coord. = Coordinator; Dev’t = Development; Dir. = Director; Enrich. = Enrichment; Gen’s = General (for entire student body);  Lship = Leadership; LD Specific = Position was put in place specifically to facilitate/direct the Leadership Development (LD) academy; Mgt. = Management; R’s = Resources; SAs = Student Athletes; Sp Psych = Sport Psychologist; STEPS Program = Success Training & Excellence Planning for SAs; Stu = Student; Su

Table 3
Best Practice DIY Leadership Processes: NCAA Division I University Athletic Departments (USA)       

Place/Location Program Name Mission Programming Exemplars

Crimson Tide D.R.I.V.E for Success (McCollough A-Club Career-Leadership Center

Pillars: Dedication; Responsibility; Influence; Vision; Excellence

Courses for Freshmen-Sophomores; Resume-Career Fair/Panels

Grad School Preparation; Crimson Catalysts (juniors) meet monthly w/ staff

American Univ.

S-A Leadership Program

Strengths; Qualities; Types & E.I.

Freshmen program; JR/SRs career development


Appalachian State

Mountaineer Leadership Institute

Enhancing SA experience

Career development; CE; Personal growth-leadership

4-Tier Junior Mountaineer Youth Initiative: Let’s Go!

Arkansas State

Red Wolves Leadership Academy

Academic excellence; Athletic success; Community; Ambassadors

Lessons for the Pack (captain club); Leading the Pack (SAAC, Depart. Leadership)

100% job placement goal



Razorback Leadership Academy

Develop core leadership skills of SA’s, coaches & staff members

3 Levels: Emerging, Veterans, Leadership 360; Habitudes

H.I.T.-Hogs in Transition; Rookie Razorbacks; App for leadership education


BU Leadership Academy

Develop SAs as effective & vocal leaders

3 Levels: Freshmen, Emerging, Veterans,

Weekly meetings for Freshmen leaders; Recognition

Boston College

Devlin S-AFE Program for Leadership Development

Enable SAs to develop in all facets of their collegiate experience

Xcel III Summit for Athletic Leaders
(2 day retreat); Community Service

Immersion Service Trip for 20 SAs



Bucknell Bison Leadership Academy

Training Bison SAs to become effective leaders in academics, athletics & life

Guest speakers, workshops ranging from DiSC work, action learning, cultural competence

“Build Bridges” strategic initiatives: vision, alignment & execution (13 goals)




Enhancing the quality & diversity of SA experience

Leader Link meetings, SAAC, community service

Leadership Certificate Program; Leadership Course

Central Florida


UCF S-A Leadership Institute (SALI)

Aims to develop, challenge & support SAs in quest become world-class leaders

2 programs: Squires (sophomores) & Knights (Capts & veteran leaders); seminars, speakers

Knights w/out Borders global service initiative; Mock interview night



CU Leadership Development Program

Develop SAs to be today’s & tomorrow’s leaders

3 programs (sophs, juniors, seniors)

7 aspects to personal development program along w/ leading the Herd


Big Red Leadership Institute


Empower SAs to assume roles as TMs and team leaders

5 cohort groups (Fr, Soph, Jr, Sr, Capts) each w/ specific curriculum

4 year developmental curriculum


Chidsey Center for Leadership Development


To prepare all students for “lives of leadership and service”

Semester long interactive seminars for those athletes selected (usually 1-2 per team)

Provides support, resources, and design retreats for leaders across all of campus


Dragon Leadership Academy & Sports Leadership Academy (HSM)

Emphasizes the effectiveness of life-skills training & character development through sport

Virtues & Values Program (10 Feet to Character) for youth

Coaching the Coaches Workshop & Coaching Your Kids


Duke Athletic Leadership Program


Proactively develop and enhance the leadership skills of student-athletes, coaches and athletic department administrators.

3 programs: First year, S.O.L.E (sophs), Advancing Leaders

Senior Athlete Interactive Leadership Experience (S.A.I.L.) 


Character Development Programming for Coaches/Teams

Develop character, create better people, better players & better results

Head coach collaborative meetings every month

How character values are brought onto the playing field & reinforced

Florida State



New opportunities for Leadership, Education & Service

Seminars; Speaker Series; 3 phases to Women in Leadership Development

W.I.L.D women & R.E.A.L men programs



Cooper Athletics Leadership Program (CALP), Hoyas Lead curriculum

Take concrete steps to ensure overall development of SAs through their participation in athletics

Hoyas Lead courses – 4 year series of classes; Teaching leadership skills to local scholastic students

Collaborative research w/ external experts; coaching for the coaches


SA Leadership Academy

Encourage leadership & development in its most promising SAs

Meetings & events for those inducted; resources are provided

Annual visit w/ local leaders; Assistantships; Inductions


Cougar Pride Leadership Academy

Develops, challenges & supports SAs & coaches in their continual quest to become leaders

5 levels of leadership: Fr, Sophs, Jrs, Srs, and Leadership 360; Coaches programs

Breathe to Lead Retreat; Real World 101


Leadership Program by Sprit of IU

Excellence Academy is nation’s most innovative-comprehensive SA dev. program

3 levels: Emerging, Elite, Executive

The Spirit of Indiana; Hoosier Heroes Mentoring Program


KU Leads

Prepare SAs for leadership positions by empowering them to enact positive change

Freshman Leadership Academy; Emergent Leader Retreat


Kansas State

The Leadership Academy

Equip SAs to success in every aspect of their lives through holistic programming

2 year program: Emerging Leaders; Veteran Leaders; Speaker series

Career Cats; “Minute to Win It” challenges

Kennesaw State

L.E.A.D. Owls

Prepare SAs to excel as leaders in the classroom, community & competition

SA Leadership Academy

Champions of Character Program

Kent State

Athletics Leadership Academy

Developing & enhancing leadership skills of participating SAs

Year long program for sophs & juniors meeting once/month

Application & essays selection process; 360 assessments



Impact Leadership

To build leaders of character, competence, and consequence for the field of play & game of life

Assessment, metrics & behavioral tags; Freshmen leadership course; Links activities to outcome

“Whole person reporting”; tablet based exercises through APTUS


Oaks Leadership Academy

Develop the next generation of leaders

Two workshops per year; peer mentoring; supplemental online resources

360 feedback for veteran leaders, one-on-one coaching


John A. Cable Center for Athletics Leadership Development

Foster & inspire a culture of leadership w/in the Lehigh Athletics community

Lehigh P.R.I.D.E. Spring, Emerging Leaders, Leadership Legacies, and LAUNCH

5 Pillars:
Self-Awareness, Integrity, Competitiveness, Team-First Mentality, and Toughness


Derek Smith Leadership Academy & LCare (Life Skills Program)

Support/council our SAs so t hey will max their potential at UofL and be successful in preparing their future lives

4 phases: Emerging, Established, Experienced, Engaged Leaders

Required points to graduate from one phase to the next


TERPS Leadership Academy (Emerging Leaders Program)

Educate, develop & serve SAs through career/personal development

Career & professional development (summer internships)

InTERPship Academy – gain experience in workplace; SA Talent Show!



Tiger Leadership Institute


Shaping Mizzou SAs into productive leaders while on campus and after graduation

Montly meetings-seminars on identity development, discovering leadership style and how best to lead

Mizzou’s Total Person Program; Use of 2 on-campus leadership experts


Husker Life Skills


Promote total person development best preparing student-athletes for life after sport

Life Skills-based; Events-seminars (Husker Life); Service trips, alumni events, career development

Post-eligibility opportunities; Total Person Development; Service trips

New Orleans

S-A Enrichment Leadership Academy

Provide holistic experience while assisting SAs with reaching their fullest academic & personal dev.

Workshops, community service, career development

Team service projects

North Carolina

Carolina Leadership Academy


Develops, challenges, & supports SAs, coaches, staff in quest to become world class leaders

5 levels: Veteran, Leadership Lab, Rising Stars, Creed mentors, Carolina Creed

The first of its kind; 7900 hours invested in leadership development of SAs


NU P.R.I.D.E. Leadership Institute


Help NU SAs develop leadership skills within themselves and learn to apply them

4 levels: FYE’s (Fr.), Defining (1 year), Veterans, Senior Transition

Senior Transition Seminars (Great Seniors)

Notre Dame

Rosenthal Leadership Academy


Develop-enhance strong leadership on ND teams by providing emerging and existing leaders with progressive annual programs

Summer/fall retreats & workshops focused on skill building, awareness, goals & empathy-perspective building

Character education annual conference (Play Like A Champion)

Ohio State


Wolstein Leadership Academy

Develop & nurture leadership skills necessary for achievement on/off the playing field

Intro. Retreat & meetings 1/week over summer; meetings throughout academic year

Bucks Go Pro internship program;


The Leadership Academy


Builds the skills of aspiring leaders & freedom to cultivate personal growth beyond their SA role

3 concentrations: team based, individual dev., & up-and-coming SAs leadership dev.

Bridge Builders




Leadership Education

Provides the optimal experience for SAs; Focuses on the total development of our SAs & recognizes their changing needs

Group workshops & individualized educational opportunities

Uses Kouzes & Posner model as framework

Oregon State


Everyday Champions Leadership Institute

Provide comprehensive programming to advance acad. potential of SAs

Coursework with invited guests from community; career development; Captains table

Beavers Without Borders service projects; Future’s Forums

Penn State


Athletic Director’s Leadership Institute (ADLI)

Strengthen SA understanding of leadership

Workshops on theories, styles & learning from those hold positions;
Service learning

Create a personal leadership philosophy



John R Wooden Leadership Institute

Committed to the total development of each of its SAs-One component is leadership

Monthly meetings for Athletic Council & Emerging Leaders; Course for freshmen; Seminars

Curriculum based on Coach Wooden’s works; Certificate of Achievement



Developing Leaders in Sports and Life Leadership Development Program

Prepare SAs to become both leaders and positive contributors to society

Monthly sessions focus on a variety of leadership topics; 2-3 SAs per team

Take their newly learned skills to teams & greater Houston community



Captains’ Leadership Program Objectives

Lead by example; Lead the team; Lead positively; Lead through adversity

Seminars offered 2/year

Bronc pledge (RIDER)




Rutgers Leadership Academy (RLA)

Equip SAs w/ the skills they need to achieve success during-after their collegiate careers

4 core areas: career, academic, personal development, & community engagement

RLA Leadership Award (points earned-team & individual)



Samford Strong Leadership Academy

Importance of faith & character to success in all areas of life to Samford SAs

3-4 seminars each semester (Speakers are successful former athletes)

Jointly run by Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics & Leadership

Seton Hall



Helping Athletes Learn to be Leaders (HALL)

Be the catalyst that transforms high school graduates into SA leaders then leaders in the professional world

5 components: LD, SA welfare, Academic success, CE & spiritual growth: forum, guest speakers, SAAC activities

Leadership Forum

Southern Cal


LD; Captains Corner

Develops & supports SAs on their journey to become effective leaders in their present and future endeavors. 

Multi-faceted program: POWER program seminars (2/semester); personal-career development

Women Volleyball Team’s LD Process; Fr-Sr Transition Workshops; Women of Troy group

St. John’s


Student Development for Athletes

Assist SAs in realizing their educational and athletic potential

SAAC; Peer Educators; SA Orientation Leaders; CE

St. John’s SA Leadership Certificate



Voleaders Academy

Cultivate positive SA leaders through sport to create positive social change

4 components: Retreat, Course (LD, sport), service immersion experience for 14-15 selected SAs

Meet twice/week; 10 day cultural exchange

Tennessee Tech


SA Leaders for Life Program (for female SAs)

Provides mentoring & networking opportunities for female SAs

Lecture series

Program fosters ‘inclusive empowerment’ 



Center for Sports Leadership & Innovation (CSLi)

To transform lives for the benefit of society

Courses & training sessions (financial literacy, decision making); certification program for HS coaches; captains academy

Women Volleyball Team’s LD Process;

Texas Christian


Horned Frogs Academy & Leadership in Athletics

Challenges student-athletes to become ethical leaders and responsible citizens in the global community. 

Courses, group activities, seminars & guest speakers covering all types of content

Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) Life and Character coaching

Texas Tech



Fearless Champions Leadership Academy

Becoming a fearless champion takes more than skill, discipline and team work. It requires developing the leadership potential of every student-athlete. 

6 components: character, LD, wellness, career, CE, professional dev., lecture series

J.T & Margaret Talkington Lectureship Series




Devlin S-aFE (SA for Education) Center for LD

Incorporates service & community outreach into the SA experience at Tulane

Personally meaningful volunteer and outreach; mentoring area school children

Shadow a-SA Day



Wooden Academy

The program is named after legendary Coach John Wooden, and strives to teach the values-principles of his Pyramid of Success.

Seminars from Bruin alumns; interactive workshops by Bruin coaches/staff; SAMS (SA mentors); service opportunities

A2B – Athletes to Business (one-on-one career counseling)



Catamount Leadership Academy

Foster leadership skills in our outstanding SAs

First years (1 credit class), Emerging & Veteran leaders; workshops; youth mentor program

Catamount Mentor Program (partnering alums w/ current SAs)



Leadership Institute

Educate and train SAs to become effective leaders on-the field, in the classroom, and for lifelong success after graduation.

Programs for Fr,; Application for Soph-Jrs, & Srs-Capts; Projects, presentations, mentoring

Small group learning & discussions

Virginia Tech


Leadership Institute

Help our SAs recognize they all have the potential to lead and influence others based on their strengths & passions

Workshops (culture of leadership) & speakers for team captains, emerging, & SAAC leaders; Global citizenship challenges (3/semester)

SA Pylons of Promise; Complimentary interview suit upon completion of LD program to launch their career 

Washington State


Athletics Leadership Development Program

Help SAs develop life-long, adaptable leadership skills and competencies

Academic coursework (3); cooperative educational internship; workshops

Athletics Leadership Development Certificate




Leadership & Involvement

Committed to inspiring, engaging and advancing student-athletes outside of the athletic arena

SA Development Curriculum, including LD course; SA Peer leaders program; SAAC; Badger Challenges

Leadership Certificate; SA Equally Supporting Others (SAESO)




Kiphuth Leadership Academy

Develops Yale SAs & coaches to be world-class leaders in athletics, academics & life

6 programs throughout the year for Emerging (So.) & Veteran leaders (Jr, Sr)

Program certificate for successful completion

Note: Acad = Academic; Capts = Captains; CE = Community Engagement; Dev = development; EI – Emotional Intelligence; Fr = Freshmen; Jr – Juniors; LD = Leadership development; SAs = Student-Athletes; SAAC – Student-Athlete Advisory Committee; Sophs = Sophomores; Sr – Seniors; TMs = Teammates

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