Declining the Big East: A Case Study of the College of the Holy Cross
The case study examines Holy Cross’ decision not to join the Big East Conference in 1979. Specifically, the case analyzes the commitment to a marketing strategy to de-emphasize athletics at a time when many institutions were using the growth of television to help market their university brand. The study also highlights the impact the decision has had on the institution and the athletic department since 1979. Data were gathered by interviewing two former administrators with over 50 years of experience at Holy Cross, and reviewing archival data and documents including administrators’ correspondence and letters, newspaper articles, magazines and websites related to Holy Cross athletics. Themes are presented in a chronological format to show the sequence of each theme. Results indicated that although the Big East presented many opportunities, administrators valued the academic brand of the institution and refused to sacrifice that brand in the pursuit of big-time athletics.
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