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This research examines the dynamics of strategic decision making within the western Canadian university athletic system. Using a framework developed from the Bradford studies (Hickson, Butler, Cray, Mallory, & Wilson, 1986) and Butler (1991), we focused on three key elements of decision making; complexity, politically, and the rules of the game. Using these concepts, this paper presents a case study analysis of the decision process that centered around the potential restructuring of the Canada West University Athletic Association and the Great Plains Athletic Conference. Qualitative research methods were used to collect and analyze data from documents and interview transcripts. The results show that the diversity of interests, level of influence, and both the constraining and enabling rules of the game contribute to the way the decision topic of restructuring was interpreted, what behaviors were enacted, and how the decision making process emerged to deal with this topic.
L. Hill is with the School of Human Kinetics at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C., Canada V6T 1Z1. L.M. Kikulis is with the Department of Physical Education, Sport Science and Recreation Management at Loughborough University, Leicestershire, LEU 3T11, UK.