Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

William P. Foster, EdD, Director; Patricia Lowry, PhD; Wallace F. Cohen, EdD


college athletic departments, Leadership studies, organizational structure, San Diego (California), university-higher education, University of California, San Diego (San Diego, CA)


This study investigated an empirical example of a Vaill's high performance system within the university-higher education organization with the purpose of assisting leaders within colleges and universities in having a greater understanding of the organizational structure of their own institutions. The results are analyzed with the prospects of utilizing this information to address such theoretical questions as: how did the athletic department achieve this high level of performance and how was the athletic department able to exist as a high performance system within the university organization? This study, which extended from January, 1986 to May, 1986, was conducted using the athletic department of the University of California, San Diego. The sample consisted of forty-one subjects: The Athletic Director, ten coaches, and thirty athletes. The research design was a case study that used the focused interview technique. An interview guide, that was designed by the researcher, was used during the interview portion of this research. It consisted of 34 questions. Each of these questions were designed to reflect a specific criterion and/or characteristic of a high performance system as defined by Vaill. Each of the questions were analyzed to see whether or not the response was in agreement with the response given by the Athletic Director. A 70 percent level of agreement was established. Each question had to achieve this 70 percent agreement between the Athletic Director's response and the responses of the forty coaches and athletes in order for a question to be used in the analysis of data. The researcher concluded that the athletic department could be identified as a high performance system. In addressing the question of how the athletic department achieved this level of excellence the findings suggest that the environment outside the university played a significant role in influencing the successful development of the department. The findings also suggest that the athletic department was able to exist as a high performance system within the university organization because of the ability of an organized anarchy and a loosely coupled system to tolerate novel solutions, local accommodations, and a great deal of ambiguity while still maintaining its own unique identity. (Abstract shortened with permission of author.)

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access