Understanding Legal Duties: Are High School Athletic Directors Properly Prepared?


  • Jimmy Smith Gonzaga University
  • Richard L. Bailey University of Mount Union
  • Jim Evans Viterbo University
  • Lindsey Elliott Providence Classical Christian School
  • Tyler Allen PickleBallTournaments. com




interscholastic sport, athletic directors, legal duties, survey methods, regression analysis, high school


The legal duties of high school athletic directors are an under-researched area of sport law. Millions of dollars are paid out annually due to the negligence of high school athletic program administrators, justifying a deep dive into further understanding high school athletic director legal awareness. Utilizing research related to an established 14 legal duties for high school athletics, the authors created a survey to contribute to the limited existing research related to high school athletic director legal awareness.

The survey went to a geographically balanced sample of states and the athletic directors within these states. A total of 349 responses were captured. A Rasch analysis identified the most challenging duties for high school athletic directors to manage were areas such as keeping practice plans on file and advising students of warning labels on equipment. Areas that high school athletic directors were better equipped to manage were transportation of students to practice and competition, and ensuring equipment meets industry standards.

Multiple regression analysis revealed that smaller schools are most challenged in legal duty awareness due to limited resources (e.g., financial and personnel). Research should continue to build in this area by evaluating other variables that may impact the ability to comply and explanations for the level of awareness of directors.

Author Biographies

Jimmy Smith, Gonzaga University

Jimmy Smith, PhD, is an associate professor of sport management in the School of Education at Gonzaga University. Outside of higher education, he has worked in youth and high school coaching for the past 10 years.

Richard L. Bailey, University of Mount Union

Richard L. Bailey, PhD, JD, is an assistant professor of sport business in the School of Business at the University of Mount Union. Prior to becoming a professor, he practiced law for several years in Worthington, Ohio, handling a wide variety of cases in both criminal and civil contexts.

Jim Evans, Viterbo University

Jim Evans, PhD, JD, is a visiting assistant professor of Sport Management and Leadership in the College of Business, Leadership, and Ethics at Viterbo University. Prior to entering academia, he practiced law for several years in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. His primary areas of practice included commercial litigation and corporate counseling.

Lindsey Elliott, Providence Classical Christian School

Lindsey Elliott, MA, is a coach and athletic administrator at the Providence Classical Christian School. She has almost two decades of experience working as a coach and athletic director at both the middle and high school levels in Colorado and Washington.

Tyler Allen, PickleBallTournaments. com

Tyler Allen, MA, is the director of program and business operations for PickleBallTournaments. com. He has more than 10 years of coaching experience in tennis and pickleball.






Original Research