Many leaders in intercollegiate athletics are under attack due to an overemphasis on winning and revenue generation. In response, some have recommended a transition to a servant leadership approach because of its focus on the well-being of followers and ethical behaviors (Burton & Welty Peachey, 2013; Welty Peachey, Zhou, Damon, & Burton, 2015). The purpose of this study was to examine athletic directors’ potential demonstration of servant leadership and possible contribution to an ethical climate in NCAA Division III institutions. Participants were 326 athletic staff members from NCAA Division III institutions. Results indicated athletic staff members believed athletic directors displayed characteristics of servant leadership. Athletic department employees perceived athletic directors exhibited servant leadership characteristics of accountability, standing back, stewardship, authenticity, humility, and empowerment most often. Staff members who perceived athletic directors displayed servant leadership characteristics were more likely to report working in an ethical climate. If athletic directors choose to model the characteristics of servant leaders, they could promote more fully the NCAA Division III philosophy of prioritizing the well-being of others, being a positive role model for employees, and fostering ethical work climates within their athletic departments.

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