Snakes in Sneakers: A Case Study of Organizational Politics in a NCAA Division I Athletics Program

in Case Studies in Sport Management
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This case is a creative illustration of organizational politics in a National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) sports setting. It includes the exploration of several key concepts: political will, political skill, political perceptions, political behavior, and political influence theory. Upon arriving to his new job at the Division I level, an assistant men’s basketball coach finds himself to be a key piece in a political chess match between the highly successful Head Coach of the men’s basketball team and the Athletic Director (AD). The issue at hand is the hiring of the new assistant coach by the AD without the support of the head coach. The hire is an attempt by the AD to subvert and eventually replace the legendary head coach who, in the eyes of the AD, is long past his prime. Accordingly, the new hire encounters a variety of political scenarios, including strong resistance from the players and coaching staff of the men’s basketball team. This case, with the addition of detailed teaching notes, is designed to highlight salient elements of organizational politics to undergraduate and graduate sport management students, and explain how they can successfully apply this information and more effectively operate in the political sports arena.

Marshall J. Magnusen, Andrew Gallucci, Stephen Kelly, and Josh Brown are with the Faculty of Health, Human Performance and Recreation, Baylor University, Waco, TX.

Supplementary Materials

  • Teaching Note (PDF 261 KB)
Case Studies in Sport Management
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