Terry Eddy Cody Havard Lori L. Braa Session # - 10:25–10:55am.
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Terry Eddy Cody Havard Lori L. Braa Session # - 10:25–10:55am
The NCAA membership is divided into Division I, Division II, and Division III. Overall, it has been found that the general public is unfamiliar with Division II, and does not attend Division II events (NCAA, 2006). Administrators believe reclassification to higher, more visible divisions can achieve enhanced prestige and financial benefits (Whitmore, 2003). Requires large investments from the university Typically, results in years of poor on-field performance Benefits are mostly intangible (NCAA, 2007)
However, in an attempt to reach other groups through reclassification, key university stakeholders (students & alumni) are often neglected despite their strong affiliations with the institution. Previous research has focused on the FBS level and has largely ignored reclassification to the FCS level. The purpose of this study was to analyze an institution’s recent reclassification from NCAA Division II to NCAA Division I (FCS). Does the reclassification of a Division II member institution to a Division I (FCS) member institution affect perceptions of the university’s overall image amongst key stakeholder groups? RQ:
Athletics and Higher Education The public often believes a university’s image is more influenced by football than by academics (Roy et al., 2008). A major financial investment in big-time college sport has a potential ripple effect across campus. Typically, it results in a diminished undergraduate education experience (Sperber, 2001). However, previous research over the past 25 years have found inconclusive results with regard to a successful athletic program and: Financial contributions Applications for admissions Total enrollment
Reclassification Literature Authors Roy, Graeff, and Harmon (2008) investigated the stakeholder perceptions of a Division I-AA football programs transition to Division I-A. The results included: More perceived prestige Enhanced school spirit A direct and significant effect on a university’s image The NCAA (2007) studied the financial and nonfinancial benefits to reclassification from 1993- 2003. The results included: Greater financial drain on institutions More diverse student body Ultimately, benefits are not measureable and unique to each institution.
Economic Significance of Membership Reclassification (Tomasini, 2005) Considering the ability of athletics to attract potential enrollment and private giving, the author looked at the economic differences associated with an institution’s move from Division II to Division I (FCS) football participation. The author’s results indicated that donations, freshman applications, and student enrollment did not increase in the three years following reclassification. However, there is evidence that on-field success has a positive effect on university exposure and donations.
Brand Positioning & Reclassification A university’s brand position that extends beyond the current brand image, must be supported by an organization that has the ability to create a product that reflects the new identity. It is highly desirable to invest in tracking; an assessment of how customer perceptions have been affected by the brand positioning effort (Aaker, 1996). The consumer’s interpretation affects the brand, regardless of the intention of the person who designed the experience (Fortini-Campbell, 2001).
Research Setting Mid-sized university in the Rocky Mountain region Transitioned from Division II to Division I (FCS) in 2001 Data Collection Survey protocol was instituted via online and paper surveys to two distinct populations: undergraduate students (paper) and alumni (web-based). Collection took place February 1 – March 31, 2009 Data analysis The analysis consisted of descriptive statistics that were examined to ensure soundness of the data. Independent samples t tests were also interpreted to examine differences in the mean perceptions of the two samples.
Survey instrument Stakeholders were investigated to understand their: a)perceptions of a Division I athletic program, b)perceptions of the institution’s move to Division I membership, c)perceptions of the relationship between the university’s academic programs and athletic programs, and d)behavioral intentions related to the institution’s move to Division I membership. Since not all survey items were relevant to all groups, some survey questions were not included on all three surveys. Demographic and other behavioral information related to college athletics were also collected.
Event Attendance Results Perception and Reality: The University’s transition Motivations to move On-field results Athletic Director’s response to the survey Perceptions of Stakeholders Overall, the perception results indicate an apathetic response or a slightly favorable opinion of the University’s move to Division I athletics. Results similar to previous research with regard to reclassification (Roy et al., 2008).
Admissions and Donations A Division I athletic department appears not to be a reason for why current students attend the university. Nor, is it a reason for alumni to get involved with their university Athletics and Image Overall, positive responses with regard to the relationship between athletics and the University’s image No difference between Alumni and Students Potential to build university’s image through college sport
Athletics and Academics This relationship elicited the strongest responses from both students and alumni Confirms previous research among these key stakeholders. In all, a Division I athletic program appears to have little impact on the perceptions of the University’s academics Behavioral Intentions Each intention was significantly different between the two groups An opportunity to enhance alumni relations through college sport may exist
General Public Perceptions Surrounding counties and major cities Qualitative Component Additional stakeholders: Athletic Administrators Coaches Faculty & Staff Incoming students On-Field Success and the Transition to Division I Athletics Unique club sports component