Southeastern Conference Recruiting and the Maintenance of Power-5 College Sport

Chris Corr – University of South Carolina
Richard M. Southall – University of South Carolina
Mark S. Nagel – University of South Carolina

Members of National Collegiate Athletic Association Power-5 Conference athletic departments perform institutional work to maintain a shared institutional logic. However, within Power-5 athletic departments there are also subcultures (e.g., subunits) that perform institutional work in conflict with espoused institutional ceremonial facades. Within this research context, this study examined official visit itineraries from a sample of Southeastern Conference (SEC) athletic departments as institutional work products that reflect a negotiated institutional terrain within which athletic department sub-units make decisions regarding the amount of time dedicated to social, athletic, and academic activities. The current study reports the findings from an examination of (n = 76) SEC official visit itineraries across (n = 21) sports. Overall, findings revealed official visit itineraries emphasized social and athletic activities, while minimizing or ignoring academic activities. Male sports – particularly male revenue sports – dedicated significantly less time to academic activities. Not surprisingly, profit sport official visits involved significantly more social and athletic activities than both revenue sports and non-revenue sports. These findings support the need for additional research across Power-5 conferences to determine whether the differences found within SEC athletic departments exist across the institutional field of Power-5 college sport.