If the team changes the coach, does the team’s performance change? From the literature on leadership succession and organizational performance, three perspectives have emerged that seek to answer this question: common sense, vicious cycle, and ritual scapegoat. We extend these leadership perspectives by drawing on organizational theory to explain leadership succession and organizational performance in National Collegiate Athletic Association Division Football Bowl Subdivision football. We develop a model and use the Arellano and Bond (1991) linear dynamic panel data estimator to examine this relationship from the 1950–1951 season to the 2008–2009 season. Our results show that organizational performance decreases initially following a leadership change. However, as a coach’s tenure increases at the university, organizational performance improves. This offers some support for vicious cycle theory and suggests that sport managers should do a better job of managing performance expectations following a coaching change as our results show that coaching changes lead to a drop in performance.
Soebbing is with the Dept. of Kinesiology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA. Washington is with the Faculty of Business, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Albert, Canada.