Due to the perceived benefits of NCAA Division I participation, institutional decision makers regularly encounter the appropriate extent of intercollegiate athletics commitment. Amid evidence of limited profitability, many institutions continue investment in Division I athletics. However, select institutions have redirected Division I athletic commitment from former failing courses of action. Based on escalation of commitment theory, this study investigated de-escalation of commitment within the bureaucratic educational setting of Division I athletics by implementing a collective case study of select higher learning institutions (N = 8). Participants (n = 32) included decision makers involved in the development and implementation of de-escalation initiatives. Findings revealed unique theoretical contributions related to the absence of negative feedback and importance of accurate information in redefining the magnitude of a problem. Contrary to previous de-escalation research, findings provided further contribution related to the importance of limited stakeholder consultation and a lack of engagement in impression management among decision makers.
Hutchinson is with the Department of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN. Bouchet is with the Collins College of Business, University of Tulsa, Tulsa, OK.