Non-teachers learning to be activities directors

Schools having hard time find ADs

Mike Winker, U of Iowa lecturer
Mike Winker, U of Iowa lecturer

Editor’s note: Mike Winker, 53. is the former activities director at Cedar Rapids Xavier High School. He now is in his second year as a lecturer at the University of Iowa. He teaches in the Sport and Recreation Management Program, heading up the certificate program for SRM students to become activities administrators in Iowa high schools.

By Mike Winker, community contributor

Until few years ago, activities administrators in Iowa were required to have teaching endorsement from the Board of Educational Examiners.

Because high schools have a difficult time in recruiting, hiring and retaining activities administrators, the requirements recently changed to allow Sport and Recreation Management students to become high school activities administrators.

This change in requirement is very similar to changes that took place with coaching requirements in Iowa in the 1980s. It was becoming more and more difficult for schools to find teachers who were also willing to coach at their schools and, in 1984, the requirements changed and non-teachers were able to coach in high schools after attaining a coaching authorization from the BOEE.

Now some 30 years later, about half of all high school coaches nationwide are non-teachers. Our high school programs would not be able to exist without non-teacher coaches.

The average activities administrator in Iowa now serves about four years. Many activities directors will only serve a year or two before leaving the position. Allowing individuals who do not have a teaching endorsement to serve in these roles will increase the number of candidates for school districts.

We cover many areas in our program to develop students for success as potential leaders in our schools. Sports Law is a semester course for our students because of the many issues currently affecting activities programs. Examples of the legal issues covered are “Hazing & Bullying,” “Sexual Harassment,” “Liability, Title IX Compliance” and “Constitutional and Civil Rights of students.”


Other issues and topics covered in our program are, hiring and mentoring of coaches, budgets, facilities, transportation and event management — just to name a few.

All students who earn the certificate must also complete an “internship” in a high school with a current activities administrator. The student must complete 135 hours during the “field experience” component of the program. The internship component of our program gives our students “real world” experiences while under the supervision of excellent AD role models.

There already are individuals in our state who have obtained the activities administration authorization and are serving as full or part-time activities administrators. Will we look back 20 years from now and see positive examples of activities administrators leading successful high school programs as we now do with coaches who are not teaching in the building?

In the upcoming year, I will continue to contribute stories concerning high school activities in the state of Iowa. I look forward to writing about current issues and topics important for our schools and, more importantly, to the students who participate in all activities.

l You can contact Mike Winker at



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