This project involved an intensive dispute systems design project with a prominent DI football program to address off-field issues that were interfering with on-field performance.


The Assistant Head Coach in charge of Athlete Development reached out to SCI to get a better understanding of what could be done to address a large uptick of high profile off-field issues. Assessment included a series of meetings with the coaching staff, key student-athlete leaders, and administrators to provide a clear understanding of what types of issues were arising and to understand team goals and rules desired by the coaching staff. This assessment yielding an understanding that there was not a clear agreement between the coaching staff and student-athletes about what rules and behaviors were expected in order to achieve the specific goals for the season. SCI's recommendation was to convene a strategic planning process to tighten the goals and rules and then to develop both a positive reward system with specific points linking to desirable behavior and a punitive system that clearly lays out expectations and consequences for violating these expectations.


The strategic planning session quickly identified a consistent set of rules and best practices for the student-athletes with participation and support from key student-athlete leaders in combination with the coaching staff. This created a great sense of ownership and a broader base of support for articulation and enforcement of both the positive and negative accountability systems to be built. SCI then helped to design a quantitative reward and punishment system that aligned specifically to these rules and desired behaviors. These systems were tested against over 300 scenarios identified across DI programs to ensure that the outputs provided the correct outcomes for the team. This was an iterative process that caused some significant changes to both systems prior to going live with the team. Additionally, both systems were reviewed with the NCAA Compliance Officer to ensure that all rewards and punishment were permissible within NCAA rules. The result was a clear identification of good behaviors on and off the field as well as a reduction to only minor, non-public rule infractions. It became clear that this clarity of consequences and expectations had immediate impact for the team and helped resolve a perception of inconsistent rule application by the coaching staff. At the same time, the coaching staff felt comfortable that the retained appropriate authority and that the system supported, rather than confined, them in pursuit of a BCS championship. The most important result was a 1 loss season and a major bowl appearance.


This system was adopted and remained in place for several years until the head coach left to pursue a coaching career in the NFL. The system, once built, was self-sustaining.