Craig A. Depken II and Dennis P. Wilson
The task undertaken in this paper is to determine what impact NCAA sanctions and investigations have on the competitive balance of Division I-A football conferences. The departure point for our analysis is the empirical evidence, presented by Fleisher et al. (1992) that football programs come under NCAA scrutiny after a rapid increase in winning percentage, a success rate that tends to decline when NCAA sanctions are imposed. This paper investigates two conflicting hypotheses about the role of NCAA rules enforcement. One claim is that the NCAA acts in the best interest of the amateur spirit of collegiate sports, thereby ensuring a “level playing field, ” and encouraging competitive balance. An alternative claim is that the NCAA enforces rules to protect the relative dominance of “big-time” programs, a claim that would be supported if NCAA rules enforcement promotes greater concentration of football success in the hands of fewer schools.
We estimate the impact of NCAA football probations and investigations on various measures of competitive balance in Division I-A football conferences. We relate competitive balance to historical competitive balance, a time trend, whether the NCAA had a credible enforcement mechanism, the number of teams, the number of in-conference probations binding in the current year, and the percentage of conference teams on probation.
Using data describing ten major Division I-A football conferences from 1888 through 2001, in a pooled model, in which marginal impacts are