Why Are Female Candidates Often Overlooked for Athletic Director Positions?

Most college and professional athletic directors are men. One columnist tackles the issue.

By Hady MawajdehSeptember 18, 2015 10:42 am| ,

At the 345 universities that sponsor NCAA Division 1 sports there are only 26 females who are athletic directors. In college athletics it’s still very much a boys’ club.

This week, when the University of Texas parted ways with Steve Patterson, there was an opening at the top spot. The university chose to fill the position on an interim basis with a former Longhorn athlete – a man.

Juliet Macur is Sports of the Times columnist for The New York Times. She says University of Texas President Gregory Fenves’ decision spurred her to write an article about the lack of women Athletic Directors at Universities.

Chris Plonsky, who’s the women’s athletics director is probably right down the hall from Steve Patterson’s now empty office,” Macur says. “Nobody seemed to raise her name, or even consider her as even a candidate for the position.”

Macur says that seems funny to her. “She’s one of the most powerful people in that department and runs 50 percent of… all the women’s sports.”

You’d think Plonsky would be on the shortlist.

But she’s not.

Macur says women in college athletics might be overlooked because they aren’t like the majority of members on the search committees – also men.

“Why didn’t someone think of someone like Chris Plonsky right away,” Macur says.  

“When a group of mostly men is picking someone for a top job it’s natural for them to pick someone who looks like them, who talks like them, who might’ve played high school football – just like they did. When they really shouldn’t be doing that. It’s a very narrow-minded look at who can get the job done.”