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Theory of planned behavior and women in senior-level athletic administration

Cynthia Miller Veraldo (Department of Sport Management, School of Business, Mount St Joseph University, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA)
Brody J. Ruihley (Department of Sport Leadership and Management, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, USA)

Sport, Business and Management

ISSN: 2042-678X

Article publication date: 13 March 2017




Women continue to be underrepresented in the athletic director (AD) position across all divisions of the National Collegiate Athletic Association in the USA (Acosta and Carpenter, 2014). The purpose of this paper is to investigate the role of personal aspirations in pursing the AD position.


This qualitative examination focuses on the experiences of nine women who occupy senior associate AD positions and applies the theory of planned behavior (TPB) to examine how attitude, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control influence their aspirations to pursue the AD role.


The authors suggest a combination of negative attitudes, subjective norms, and lack of perceived behavioral control negatively influencing a woman’s aspirations to pursue the AD position. These conclusions indicate women’s experiences of career advancement are constraining with regard to advancing to the AD position.

Research limitations/implications

Although this study lacks generalizability, TPB is helpful in understanding underrepresentation of women in the AD position.

Practical implications

Furthermore, the authors suggest organizational strategies that cultivate and value women’s experiences. These can equalize the hegemonic male environment of intercollegiate athletics and decrease underrepresentation of women in the most senior-level position in athletic administration.


This study is one of the first to apply TPB to explain career advancement of women in senior management positions in athletic administration.



Veraldo, C.M. and Ruihley, B.J. (2017), "Theory of planned behavior and women in senior-level athletic administration", Sport, Business and Management, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 21-37.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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