Career Outlook: General Manager

The General Manager is one of the most important positions in professional sports.

The GM is an executive that is responsible for acquiring the rights to players, negotiating their contracts, and reassigning or releasing players the team no longer feels can help them win.

In addition, the General Manager usually has the responsibility of hiring the head coach of the team.


For some professional sports teams, coaches also serve as General Managers for their teams as well, taking on both responsibilities giving them the power to negotiate the terms of player contracts, make trades and release players.

The NFL has a few coaches who also serve as GM including:

  • Bill Belichick- New England Patriots
  • Andy Reid- Philadelphia Eagles
  • Mike Shanahan- Washington Redskins

With some professional teams, the actual owner of the team also serves as the General Manager including:

  • Jerry Jones- Dallas Cowboys


One of the functions of the General Manager to ensure all player contracts are in accordance with the leagues salary caps if one is in place. Salary caps have been adopted to maintain a competitive balance between all the teams in these leagues.

General Managers are responsible for the selection of players in player drafts and they work closely with the coaching staff and all of the scouts in order to build a winning team.

Additional responsibilities include:

  • Increasing Team Revenue
  • Managing Team Budget
  • Reporting to Team President or Owner

While the General Manager makes many day-to-day decisions without input from the team president or the team owner, he is responsible for reporting these decisions to his superiors.

When it comes to big budgetary decisions he will discuss it with his superior and he must be open to receiving feedback on these decisions.

In sports with a developmental league such as the NBA or minor leagues such as MLB, the General Manager has the responsibility for sending down and calling up players to and from these leagues.

Some of the most successful sports General Managers have been former players and coaches, while others have backgrounds in ownership and business management.


While being the General Manager of a professional sports team might be your dream, it is highly unlikely you will be hired as a GM right out of college. In order to get to the point where you might be considered for a GM position you must first pay your dues and work your way up the ladder.

Most General Managers had been working in sports for many years in numerous different positions before they were even given the opportunity to interview for a GM position.

Prior Positions GM’s held:

  • College Scouting Director
  • Pro Scouting Director
  • Marketing Director
  • Development Director
  • College Athletic Director

The GM reports to the team owner or president and is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the organization including:

  • Managing The Budget
  • Increasing Revenue
  • Drafting Players
  • Signing Free Agents
  • Trading Players


Salaries can range from around $50,000 a year for minor league teams to millions of dollars annually for professional teams.

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