Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department or School

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

Helen Ditzhazy, PhD, Chair

Committee Member

Jackie Tracy, PhD

Committee Member

David Anderson, PhD


NCAA Division-IA intercollegiate athletics has become a big business with equally big expenses. Today’s intercollegiate athletics departments are feeling the state budget cuts, the strain to maximize donor support in order to balance the budget, and the challenge of chasing the ongoing goal of providing the best student athlete experience possible to young men and women across the country. It is absolutely critical today for intercollegiate athletics departments to run successful fundraising campaigns. Leadership has been shown to be one of the most significant factors in the successful development efforts of an intercollegiate athletics department. Research has shown that when athletics departments use the traditional top-down approach to leadership that is not inclusive of all involved, the department’s finances suffer. Therefore, finding alternative leadership styles to enhance development efforts is more critical than ever. In theory, the transformational leadership style offers many of the qualities needed for athletics directors to run successful financial campaigns; however, there is minimal research on the leadership characteristics needed to sustain successful development and fundraising initiatives. Therefore, the primary research questions asked in this study pertain to how various leadership styles, and the transformational leadership style in particular, affect a donor’s willingness to contribute to a university’s athletics department.

To address these questions, a correlational research design using survey questions was designed to ask donors to respond to questions pertaining to an Athletic Director’s (AD) behavior, philosophy, and actions. The donors were asked to rate on a scale of 1-5 whether they preferred a stated characteristic or behavior. In addition to this set of questions pertaining to leadership styles, donors were asked seven demographic questions and an additional question to determine the relationship between a donor's inclination to support the program and his or her preference for transformational leadership characteristics in the AD's leadership style. The responses to the survey questions and their relationship to the demographic data were analyzed. A strong preference was found by the seven different donor constituencies for an AD utilizing a transformational leadership style. In addition, the analysis revealed an overwhelming response that donors who shared similar values with an athletic director who used a transformational leadership style were more inclined to continue contributing to the athletics program.


Additional committee members: Robert Carpenter, PhD, Jack Minzey, EdD