This paper addresses the determinants of intercollegiate athletic program success. We built our arguments on a recent development in the strategic management literature, the Resource-Based View (RBV) of the firm. Our purpose was to investigate the source of sustainable intercollegiate athletic program success. In making our arguments, we briefly reviewed the RBV literature and addressed appropriate success criteria for intercollegiate athletics programs. An exploratory investigation of Pennsylvania State University's football program led to the conclusion that the resources responsible for its enduring competitive advantage are the history, relationships, trust, and organizational culture that have developed within the program's coaching staff. An organization that possesses such organizational resources may sustain a competitive advantage by exploiting its human and physical resources more completely than other organizations. The paper concludes with discussions of the potential generalizability of our findings, their implications for theory and practice, and suggested future research directions.
Dennis L. Smart is with the Department of Management at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, NE 68182; Richard A. Wolfe is currently with the Division of Kinesiology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2214.