Year of Publication



Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Executive Summary

The current state of college athletics is a popular debate topic among many Americans. Matters of athlete compensation and how large-scale commercialization has undermined traditional notions of academic integrity and genuine amateurism are the most common topics covered, but I decided to shift the conversation from the NCAA as a whole to the individual institutions and conferences that grapple with the same issues. Using the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) from 1986-2016 as a sample, I wanted to both comprehend how specific institutions respond to NCAA sanctions and the way the conference treats previously non-compliant programs when it undergoes expansion efforts. I created a three-pronged criterion for institutional response: senior-level change, lower-level change, or no change. Using my best judgment, alongside a bevy of primary sources, I designated which programs experienced administrative change.

After evaluating all twenty-three case s, clear patterns of violations and sanctions were present. Extra benefits and impermissible recruiting were the most popular form of violations while probation and public reprimand/censure were the most common penalties levied by the NCAA Infractions Committee. However, determining a pattern among institutional responses is much more difficult. Despite the overwhelming number of cases that consisted of some administrative change, the direct link between violations/sanctions and change in leadership were found in only a few instances. High attrition rates are a fact of life for senior-level administrators in both academia and athletics; resignations, retirements, new positions in different locales and firings exist at all universities. The environment often masks this direct link between sanctions and new leadership, a development that should be considered by advocates of athletic reform.