UW Research

Center for Leadership in Athletics



The Center for Leadership in Athletics develops effective leaders and leadership practices that maximize the positive, educational impact of athletics.

We believe in the power of sport to change people and communities.  This power sits in the hands of coaches, researchers, policy-makers, and sport administrators.

Core Services Offered

We offer a Master’s of Education in Intercollegiate Athletic Leadership and undergraduate courses in sports and education.  In addition to our academic programs, we are engaged in coaching education for community and school-based coaches.  We offer practical, hands-on workshops that give coaches the tools to be more effective.  This includes our ACCEL coaching certificate and customized trainings for schools and sport organizations. In addition, we work in partnership with the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association on the CoachUp! Washington project, a strategic initiative aimed at bringing foundational youth development curriculum to 44,000 education-based coaches across the state.

Our coaching education projects utilize the Ambitious Coaching™ framework as a foundation.  This framework was developed by our Center team and focuses on how coaches can positively impact athletes at all levels, blending holistic, social-emotional development with sport performance.

We also partner with the King County Play Equity Coalition to improve the physical literacy and activity of youth, particularly youth from underserved areas across the Puget Sound area.  The coalition is a network of local organizations dedicated to challenging and changing systems to shift power and center physical activity as a key part of health and youth development. The CLA’s Dr. Julie McCleery is an original founder of the coalition and part of the KCPEC’s leadership team.


The Center conducts and disseminates research focused on improving the leadership and management practices in athletics. Research activities include:

Ambitious Coaching Project:

In 2016, the Center for Leadership in Athletics launched the Ambitious Coaching Project, a research study designed to identify the knowledge and skills at the heart of effective coaching.  The goal of the project was to identify specific coaching practices that support holistic wellness and social-emotional development of athletes while preparing them for age-appropriate performance and competition.

CoachUp! Washington:

In the summer of 2021, alongside the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association we received a grant from the Susan Crown Exchange to train coaches in youth development techniques. We are researching how this training will affect knowledge and attitudes of coaches across the state and the subsequent impact on middle and high school student athletes.

College Sports and Institutional Values in Competition:

“College Sports and Institutional Values in Competition” authored by the CLA’s Associate Professor Dr. Jennifer Hoffman, explores the relationship between athletics and higher education, and how college athletics departments reflect many characteristics of their institutions and are also susceptible to the same challenges in delivering on their mission.

Intercollegiate Athletics Research Briefs:

Our research briefs highlight current topics and issues in intercollegiate athletics and the implications for practice.  Topics include Academics, Coaching, College Athlete Experiences, Equity & Inclusion, and Leadership.  Each research brief features highlights, questions for practice, and resources for learning more.

King County Play Equity Coalition:

Guided by a national framework created by the Aspen Institute, State of Play: Seattle-King County informs regional leaders, programs, and policies with the goal of improving equitable access to safe, fun physical activity that bolsters individual and community health and advancement.

Understanding Collegiate Esports:

As one of the new and rapidly growing sports programs at the collegiate level, today’s campus leaders are increasingly asked to navigate the complexity of esports.  This text helps higher education professionals understand the expanding role of collegiate esports, describing the ecosystem of college esports and the experience for college players, as well as the connections between gaming and career preparation.

Reporting Structure

Mia Tuan, Dean, College of Education

Related UW Entities

University of Washington Athletic Department
University of Washington College of Education

External Partners

King County Play Equity Coalition
Susan Crown Exchange
Washington Interscholastic Activities Association