ERIC Number: ED546060
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Abstractor: As Provided
Evaluating the Crisis Response Strategies of a University Basketball Program: How Do Reactions Differ Based on Apologies, Crisis Severity, and Team Identification?
Isaacson, Thomas E.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Michigan State University
Negative news about collegiate sports teams in the United States is nearly unavoidable for most universities. The sheer number of athletes involved in multiple programs at major universities increases the likelihood of problems. American football programs alone include rosters of 100 or more players, and the total number of athletes at National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) member institutions in the United States is over 360,000. Recent high-profile crises at Penn State, Ohio State, and University of Miami provide examples of the diverse types of crises that can happen to a program and illustrate the importance of appropriate university responses. However, once the crisis has happened little is known about the impact it will have on target audiences and more research is required to aid in the development of evidence-based recommendations. Of particular importance to a university's athletic department are the future behavioral intentions of its fans. Will the crisis impact fans' support of the university's athletic programs? Decreased support could impact attendance, TV viewing, merchandise sales, or university donations. Research from the public relations field on crisis communication provides an approach to studying crisis response strategies. Specifically, the Situational Crisis Communication Theory (SCCT) categorizes the responses and recommends when each should be used. This dissertation manipulates crisis response strategies and crisis severity and accounts for differing levels of team identification to assess the reputational threat to a university sport program following a crisis. Using a 2x2x2 experimental design, research was conducted with university students to evaluate their responses to a crisis involving members of a university basketball program. The results indicate that an apology may not be needed when corrective action, a related accommodative crisis response, is used. Crisis severity was found to impact team supportive behavioral intentions of participants (i.e., they were less likely to support a team when crisis severity increased), and basketball team identification helped predict significant differences among participants related to both the reputational threat to the program and team supportive behavioral intentions. The crisis information was found to have no impact on university donor intentions. The results contribute to a small number of research studies that have shown apologies may not always be necessary, at least with this student group of participants, even under circumstances when SCCT predicts an apology to be the most effective crisis response strategy. The practical implications of this are useful for public relations practitioners helping to determine organizational responses to crises. In addition, the inclusion of audience identification as an independent variable was important. Significant differences were found between the high and low identification students, indicating that including the variable could improve crisis managers' anticipation of this audience's responses. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page: http://www.proquest.com/en-US/products/dissertations/individuals.shtml.]
Descriptors: College Athletics, Athletes, College Students, Crisis Management, Intention, Social Behavior, Responses, Emergency Programs, Reputation, Student Attitudes, Team Sports, Public Opinion, Predictor Variables, Communication Strategies, College Administration
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A