Investigating Collegiate Athletics’ Post-Disaster Community Support

Bryan Finch – Oklahoma State University

Organizational response during disaster recovery has been examined in various communities. However, few studies have reviewed the efforts of professional sport organizations following disasters and fewer have examined collegiate athletics in this context (Finch, 2016; Hart, 2012). This study sought to examine historical examples of community recovery efforts undertaken by American collegiate athletic programs and to specifically review the responses of Oklahoma State University (OSU) athletics following a tragic community event in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Media reports were analyzed to identify responses and efforts undertaken by athletics programs over the past 20 years. Interviews of OSU athletic and university administrators were then conducted to add insights into the decision-making within the athletic department. Results found community relief efforts by college athletic programs in 21 of 32 major disasters in the United States since 2000. At OSU, six of the eleven categories of disaster response from Inoue and Havard (2015) were identified and interview data suggested that collegiate athletics did provide distinct recovery effects for various stakeholders. This study provided insight into the role of a college athletic program following a local disaster and discussed ideas for future research into the topic.