How does USC football influence the strategic goals of the University of Southern California?

Stephen V Lopes, University of Pennsylvania


The purpose of this research is to determine the relationship between one institution's academic strategic goals—largely but not exclusively defined in terms of academic prestige—and its high-profile football program. This dissertation is a case study of the relationship between the football program and the strategic goals of the University of Southern California (USC). The USC football program has been an integral part of the university's identity since the institution's inception. Over the past 10 years, however, the university has become one of the most academically prestigious institutions both on the West Coast and in the country. How, then, does a university balance the pressure and influence of a big-time football program with its academic goals and reputation? This research includes a literature review examining the relationship between research universities and high-profile intercollegiate athletics, document analysis of institutional materials, and interviews with two dozen faculty members and key university leaders, including several members of the board of trustees. The findings suggest that not only is it possible to balance academic prestige and success with a high-profile athletic program, but also that athletics can positively contribute directly and indirectly to a university's academic strategic goals.

Subject Area

School administration|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Lopes, Stephen V, "How does USC football influence the strategic goals of the University of Southern California?" (2005). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3168034.