Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Health and Sport Sciences

Degree Program

Educational Leadership and Organizational Development, PhD

Committee Chair

Greenwell, T. Christopher

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Shreffler, Megan

Committee Member

Shreffler, Megan

Committee Member

Frederick, Evan

Committee Member

Immekus, Jason

Author's Keywords

sport; ticket; sales; college athletics; relationship marketing; relationship selling


College athletics departments have experienced unprecedented growth. However, expenses have risen even faster (Fulks, 2016), and university athletics departments have relied on increased subsidies from host institutions and donations to make ends meet (Fulks, 2016). The root cause behind much of the revenue increases have been credited to large multimedia and broadcast contracts, which guarantee substantial income for decade-long terms (Sherman, 2016). Such agreements leave little room for individual growth, leaving ticket sales as one of the few controllable revenues to which a school could manipulate their own bottom line and increase profitability. Further investigation into box office sales trends are concerning. Attendance has flatlined or decreased in many Division I conferences (Kahn, 2018), and literature has highlighted inefficient box office operations as a possible cause (Bouchet et al., 2011). Research has suggested improving relationship quality between the customer and the box office may yield positive outcomes (Smith & Roy, 2011). However, the degree to which relationship quality effects purchase behaviors is still unknown. Furthermore, business literature has highlighted the importance of relationship selling behaviors in services industries (Crosby et al., 1990; Avila & Inks, 2017) however relationship selling effectiveness has not yet been examined in a sport context. Thus, the purpose of this study was to measure relationship quality and relational selling from the university box office and determine the impact of relationship quality and relationship selling techniques on consumer behavior in Division I college football. The current study utilized a sample of 520 participants representing over 90 Division I FBS schools. Data were collected using Amazon Mechanical Turk and analyzed using a series of hierarchical linear regressions. Relationship quality was measured using the Sport Consumer Team Relationship Quality Scale developed by Kim et al., (2011) while relationship selling was measures using a modified version of Crosby et al.’s (1990) instrument, adapted to fit the sport context. Purchase behaviors of renewal sales, add-on sales, upselling and cross-selling were regressed against the variables. Results showed commitment and customer disclosure as the most predictive variables for football related behavior, while cross selling (to another sport) was predicted by trust, reciprocity, agent disclosure, and cooperative intentions. The findings suggest commitment resembles team identification in its ability to predict consumer behavior, and customer disclosure as an important variable in sales exchanges. Sales training should emphasize the fan’s commitment to increase the likelihood of “new” sales (add-on, upsell), and sales representatives should take care to find out as much about the customer as possible. Additionally, the findings suggest cross-sell pitches should vary from football-specific sales, as the consumers behave differently to different aspects of relationship-based sales pitches in these situations. By leveraging findings regarding increasing relationship quality and relationship selling, athletics departments may be able to increase ticket sales and become more self-sufficient.