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National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) Division I schools compete with the Canadian Hockey League for top Canadian youth minor hockey players (ages 14–18). To address the challenges of adhering to NCAA’s eligibility and recruitment regulations, the NCAA commissioners created College Hockey Inc. (CHI). One challenge facing new institutions such as CHI is establishing legitimacy as a means of penetrating a crowded organizational field. In this paper we examine what forces, actions, and events contributed to the creation of CHI and what forces, actions, or events contribute to maintaining CHI’s relevance in their attempt to leverage NCAA Division I hockey with Canadian players and parents. Educational Opportunities, Student Life Experiences, Player Development, and Professional Hockey Opportunities were found to be discursive strategies used by CHI to gain pragmatic legitimacy and maintain the institution. Exploration of these strategies makes a number of practical and theoretical contributions to the field of sport management.
Jonathon R. Edwards is with the Faculty of Kinesiology, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. Marvin Washington is with the Alberta School of Business, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.