Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Higher Education

First Advisor

Macey Edmondson

Second Advisor

K.B. Melear

Third Advisor

Ryan Niemeyer


University of Mississippi

Relational Format



Division I college athletics is a billion-dollar industry where success or scandal can impact the entire university. This research endeavored to identify the characteristics of infractions cases at the Division I, Football Bowl Subdivision level resulting in lack of institutional control violations and how those have changed over time. Lack of institutional control is the most serious NCAA violation for an institution; therefore this finding can have the most detrimental impact on a university. Despite that, lack of institutional control is not defined and there is no safe harbor for universities seeking to demonstrate sufficient control over their athletics programs.

The data for this project was NCAA public infractions case decisions including a finding of a lack of institutional control violation for Division I, Football Bowl Subdivision institutions. This qualitative study employed inductive analysis to categorize the data. In addition, content analysis was used to quantify frequency of some data for context and support for those categories.

Three themes emerged from the data. First, a legalization of public infractions case decisions occurred over time making the case decisions more resemble court decisions. Second, there has been a dilution of lack of institutional control cases since the inception of the NCAA enforcement process. Both the number of lack of institutional control violations and the penalties associated with a lack of institutional control have tapered. Finally, the third theme to emerge was duplicitous association value meaning the stated values of the NCAA do not align with the lack of institutional control findings.

These themes can inform universities on how to structure compliance operations to provide insurance against a lack of institutional control violation. As the financial rewards of athletics success have increased, and the prevalence and athletics penalties associated with lack of intuitional control eased, athletics departments may be more risk tolerant. Therefore, knowing factors that lead to lack of institutional control and understanding that the current enforcement procedure resembles a legal process, universities can be equipped to appropriately structure athletics compliance operations, articulate qualifications necessary for their athletics compliance staff members, and prioritize compliance monitoring systems.



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