Helping sports organization solve integrity, growth, and development challenges

Development of Job Descriptions

A basic and very important piece of the personnel management system from both a hiring and evaluation perspective is the creation of detailed job descriptions that clearly express the responsibilities and work expectations of each employee.  Job descriptions set the foundation that will affect hiring decisions, contract and compensation negotiations, annual performance evaluations and daily supervision of personnel. At the very least, job descriptions should include all of the following elements:

  • title of the position;
  • supervisor - who the position reports to;
  • the overall purpose of the position;
  • employees supervised by this position;
  • an inclusive list of primary responsibilities including supervisory responsibilities;
  • education and other formal certification requirements required and preferred; and
  • past experience required and preferred at a specific competency level.

In essence, the job description serves as part of the employee’s contract and determines employee accountability.  Legally, the manager can only expect the employee to perform the duties that are listed on the job description and may be challenged by the employee if asked to complete other tasks.  One way to create some flexibility is to include a line in every job description stating that the employee will be responsible for other tasks as assigned by the manager.   If there are anomalies about the job, such as required night and weekend work, it should be included in the job description as well. 

An actual example of a challenge that was based on a job description was when an athletics trainer asked the athletics director how she would be paid if the lacrosse team qualified for post-season competition.  She was a nine month employee with a contract date of August 15th through May 15th and refused to work the extra three days for the championship.  When offered a later start the following year to make up for the three days worked, she refused.  Therefore, it is very important that the job description be analyzed thoroughly with the intent of covering all demands of the job to the extent possible.  

It is also good management practice to require supervisors and employees to update job descriptions annually with the employee and with the manager signing off on revisions.  Such required practice assures that as jobs grow or change, the agreed upon job description is up-to-date, the employee has a clear focus on their workgoals and the chance of an employee challenging work expectations will be greatly reduced.

Also important, the athletics director should recognize the existence of an athletics program position description anomaly that is a common problem at many institutions.  Many athletics programs are financially “tiered”.  All sports are not treated equally.  Yet, many athletics departments have the same job descriptions for all coaches even though there are different expectations of coaches from tier to tier that often result in different responsibilities for head coaches and in some cases, assistant coaches as well.  Therefore, athletics directors must be diligent about reflecting those differences in specific job descriptions.  Failure to do so will create situations where coaches can legally challenge compensation and treatment differences because coaching jobs appear to be equal based on the job descriptions.

Following is a sample job description:

Position:   Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach  

Reports to:  Associate Director of Athletics - Spring Sports

Position Purpose:  Conduct of a Division I lacrosse program that, as a demonstration of quality and success, (1) consistently places in the top quarter of the XXX conference, annually qualifies for conference championship play and ranks among the top 50 programs nationally, (2) maintains an exemplary student-athlete academic success rate (95% graduation rate, less than 5% academic failure rate, 75% retention rate, 985 academic progress rate, average GPA 3.0 or better) and (3) demonstrates positive personal development of student-athletes whose behavior and speaking skills reflect the expected competencies of a college educated public figure.

Directly Supervises:    Two assistant coaches, one graduate assistant

Primary Responsibilities:

  1. In collaboration with the Recruiting Coordinator and the liaison from Admissions, create and implement a comprehensive recruiting plan to attract athletically gifted student-athletes who match or exceed the academic profile of the student-body.
  2. In collaboration with the academic support staff, monitor and encourage the academic success of each lacrosse student-athlete resulting in four and five year graduation rates that exceed that of the undergraduate student population.
  3. In collaboration with the assistant coaches, strength staff members and sports medicine staff, construct a lacrosse training  program that meets professional safety standards and maximizes the athletics ability of each student-athlete resulting in a win-loss record that annually secures a finish among the top three programs in the Conference and, periodically (every 3-4 years), results in qualification for the NCAA post-season championship.
  4. In collaboration with the Associate Director for Operations, complete the team game schedule annually.
  5. Construct a zero-based lacrosse team budget annually that reflects sports program goals.
  6. Oversee the implementation of the lacrosse team budget in accordance with university processes and procedures.
  7. Administer one team community service project a year.
  8. Supervise two assistant lacrosse coaches, one student-manager, and one work-study student.
  9. Plan and implement fund raising projects to offset the costs of the spring training trip and, if necessary, recruiting trips outside of the northeast corridor.
  10. Serve as the department liaison for all conference and national lacrosse coaches associations.
  11. Oversee the implementation of all governing body rules (i.e. Lacrosse Association, Conference, NCAA) related to the lacrosse program
  12. Serve on a variety of campus committees.
  13. Perform other duties as assigned either by the Director of Athletics or the Associate Director of Athletics (who serves as the direct supervisor to this position).
  14. Conform to the highest standards of professional conduct regarding compliance with department and institutional policies and procedures and adherence to the rules and regulation of athletics governance organizations of which the institution is a member.
  15. Contribute to the maintenance of good working relationships with all staff, student-athletes, and external constituents through:  (1) a positive and constructive approach to all tasks, (2) respect for the competencies of others, and (3) appropriate conflict resolution behavior.

Qualifications and Skills:

  • Bachelor’s Degree (preferably in Education, Sports Management, Psychology)
  • Minimum of Four Years Experience as a NCAA Division I Women’s Head Lacrosse Coach
  • Past record of improved team performance
  • Competent in Microsoft Word


  • Master’s Degree
  • Coaching experience at a similar institution
  • Recruiting experience in the northeast corridor
  • Demonstrated success in NCAA post-season championship play
  • Competent in Excel Spreadsheets

Excerpted from:  Lopiano, D.A. and Zotos, C. (Publication 2014) The Athletics Director’s Desk Reference. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.