Working Paper | HBS Working Paper Series | 2014

Conflicts of College Conference Realignment: Pursuing Revenue, Preserving Tradition, and Assessing the Future

by Vadim Kogan and Stephen A. Greyser

Abstract

Over the past two years, conference realignment has taken a front seat in the college sports landscape. Economic incentives were too attractive to overlook for some universities. College football programs across the country have a lot at stake, because for many, football is an integral component of the community's, as well as the university's, culture. With conference realignment already being discussed extensively in the college sports arena as well as in the media, what should these universities do? Passively waiting to see what happens to one's conference is risky, as it may be on the verge of collapse—taking your program with it. On the other hand, boldly applying to a different conference is not a safe bet either, as the future of other conferences may be uncertain. The conflicts between the economic incentives of the program and the emotional desires of sports fans, alumni, and athletes themselves are at the crossroads of these realignment decisions.

Keywords: Organizational Change and Adaptation; Motivation and Incentives; Higher Education; Sports; Revenue; Emotions; Sports Industry; Education Industry;

Citation:

Kogan, Vadim, and Stephen A. Greyser. "Conflicts of College Conference Realignment: Pursuing Revenue, Preserving Tradition, and Assessing the Future." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 14-073, February 2014.