Gray Area Ethical Leadership in the NCAA

The Ethics of Doing the Wrong Things Right

Authors

  • Michael Sagas University of Florida
  • Brian J. Wigley Shenandoah University

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1123/jis.2014-0084

Keywords:

ethical leadership, Division I, Division III

Abstract

The NCAA’s operating manuals provide member institutions with hundreds of pages of bylaws that outline how member institutions should operate their athletic programs. Interpretations of these rules can lead to sanctions for student-athletes, coaches, athletic administrators and institutions. Such rule-based systems can potentially lead to the belief that simply following the rules as written equates to right or ethical behavior. In this commentary, we used an ethical leadership framework primarily built on the leadership and management thoughts of Bennis and Nanus (1985) to propose the College Athletics Ethical Leadership Continuum which can be used to assess the behaviors, rules, and decisions made by NCAA membership. Fundamental principles of this conceptual model include holding the student-athlete as the primary stakeholder of college sports activities, and that a critical analysis of the present is necessary to provide leadership for the future. Based on a distinction between doing things right and doing the right thing, the model is applied to four case studies in which NCAA membership policies and actions, or lack thereof, are likely compromising the wellbeing and academic success of student-athletes.

Author Biographies

Michael Sagas, University of Florida

Sagas is with the Department of Tourism, Recreation and Sport Management and Faculty Athletics Representative, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL. Wigley is with the Byrd School of Business, and Faculty Athletics Representative, Shenandoah University, Winchester, VA. Address author correspondence to Michael Sagas at msagas@uf.edu.

Brian J. Wigley, Shenandoah University

Sagas is with the Department of Tourism, Recreation and Sport Management and Faculty Athletics Representative, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL. Wigley is with the Byrd School of Business, and Faculty Athletics Representative, Shenandoah University, Winchester, VA. Address author correspondence to Michael Sagas at msagas@uf.edu.

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Published

2014-06-01

How to Cite

Sagas, M., & Wigley, B. J. (2014). Gray Area Ethical Leadership in the NCAA: The Ethics of Doing the Wrong Things Right. Journal of Intercollegiate Sport, 7(1), 40–57. https://doi.org/10.1123/jis.2014-0084