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A Smaller Window to the University: The Impact of Athletic De-Escalationon Status and Reputation

Given the changing landscape of Division I athletic competition, determining the most advantageous commitment to athletic programs is an important issue in sport and university policy. With the recent autonomy granted to select Division I Football Bowl Subdivision conferences and pending antitrust litigation vying for college athlete compensation, many universities are considering alternative courses of action in reducing their existing commitment to Division I athletics. Accordingly, this study sought to examine the impact of de-escalating Division I commitment-specifically discontinuing a Division I football program-on the status and reputation of the university and athletic department. In considering the entire population of universities which have discontinued their Division I football program from 1981 to 2010 (N= 21), the results revealed that football program discontinuation had little positive or negative impact on academic status and reputation, and a slight negative impact on athletic status. The implications of this research contributes important information on assessing previous decisions to discontinue a Division I football program and what became of those decisions.