Buried Accomplishments: Institutional Isomorphism in College Athletics Mission Statements

in International Journal of Sport Communication
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Despite suggestions that mission statements represent a strategic component of organizational communication, there has been little research of these documents in athletic departments at U.S. colleges and universities. The purpose of this research was to explore the relationship between mission statement content and athletic department accomplishments in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I schools (N = 343). The content analysis of mission statements revealed that athletics missions do not differentiate accomplished from less accomplished athletic programs. Athletic departments with strong traditions of promoting the academic advancement of student-athletes, achieving gender equity, and complying with NCAA rules tend to reference these distinctions in the same way as departments with less favorable histories. Grounded in institutional theory, this article describes the external pressures toward sameness rather than differentiation in mission statement content. Implications for intercollegiate athletics and higher education are discussed.

The author is with the Dept. of Sociology, Francis Marion University, Florence, SC. Address author correspondence to rward@fmarion.edu

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