The prominence of collegiate athletics in amateur athletics is a historically specific outcome. Research in institutional theory is extended by developing an institutional-conflict-based approach to studying institutional changes of U.S. collegiate athletics. Available secondary sources and extensive original data demonstrate how the NCAA came to dominate the governance structure of U.S. amateur basketball. Discourse about the NCAA came to represent the dominant discourse in amateur basketball, and colleges and universities eliminated the noncolleges and nonuniversities from their play schedules. The NCAA developed a set of institutional strategies aimed at increasing its power in U.S. basketball. An institutional-conflict-based approach is useful for analyzing changes in the institutional structure of sports and demonstrates how governance systems and institutional conflicts impact organizational actions. Sport policy makers and managers should consider the historical context and institutional environment of their sport when making decisions.
Washington is with the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada. Ventresca is with the Graduate School of Business and Public Policy, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA and Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, U.K.