Blog #9: Athletic Department Merger

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Most of our lectures in this class consisted of one main topic of the organization and management of sport. I think that when we had the panel of guest speakers in class we were presented with the main topic of organizational conflict and change, but also given an inside view on other important management topics. It was fascinating to hear Mr. Maturi speak about the organizational change he experienced when he became the University of Minnesota Athletic Director. He gave personal insight into the process of organizational change and also mentioned other management topics such as culture, decision-making, leadership, and power and politics. Mr. Maturi focused mainly on his approach to the organizational change of combining the men's and women's athletics departments. He explained that he used his first year as the Athletic Director almost entirely to personally adapt to the culture of the University, the two athletic departments and the people who were involved in them. In his first year, there was not one athletic department employee who got fired. Mr. Maturi decided to throw out the idea of radical change for the first year by not eliminating people and positions. Coming into the situation, Mr. Maturi knew that there would potentially be strong resistance to the change that he was hired to coordinate. The men's and women's athletic departments were completely separate in everything they did, so he expected them both to have different ideas in the process of combining the two. To combat the resistance to change that he expected, Mr. Maturi used participation and involvement of the men's and women's athletes, which Slack and Parent (2006) claim is one of the most effective ways to deal with resistance to change. The men's and women's athletic departments each had different logos before the merger. The men used the block "M" and the women used a "Ms.". Mr. Maturi asked both the men and women to come together and collectively make a decision on what the new logo for the University of Minnesota Athletic Department should be. The athletes chose the block "M" almost unanimously. This exercise helped show Mr. Maturi's commitment to the process and allowed him to gain the trust and support of the athletes. Overall, Mr. Maturi's speech on the organizational change that the University of Minnesota experienced shed a new light onto many organizational processes. His leadership and ability to make decisions has helped the merger go smoothly and has created an effective athletic department.

4 Comments

I agree that the theme was more on the topic of conflict and change rather than organization and management. It seemed to me, based on Mr. Maturi's speech, that his skills are geared more towards conflict resolution. He doesn't seem like the type of athletic director who'll put his foot down or rule with an "iron fist". He seems to like to work with people and bring them together to resolve the conflict. Like in the example you gave with the "M" and "Ms" logo decision, he wanted input from every department involved. Sometimes his way of doing things clashes with how other people think things should be done. On example of that was when one of the coaches, for which sport I cannot recall, was called by Mr. Maturi to his office for a quick meeting. Mr. Maturi just wanted to talk, but the coach thought there was no way he should have to go to his office for a meeting. This type of clash can be harmful for an organization, but these types between levels in the organizational hierarchy will usually be solved fairly quickly.

I agree with Ben, the Joel Maturi gave his personal insight on the merger of the men’s and women’s athletic departments at the University of Minnesota. It was very interesting to hear how he was hired, and how everything evolved from then on. He explained that there were many people that were displeased with his hiring, because they knew that university was serious about merging the two departments and that is exactly what they brought him in for. Ben did a really good job of integrating information from the Slack and Parent about organizational change and conflict. He made a great reference to the resistance to change and the best way to deal with it being participation and involvement. I also thought it was interesting to hear the other speakers talk about their roles in the merger and how people reacted towards them as they were supporting Maturi in his decisions and changes.
-Bria S.

I too agree with Ben about the fact that the panel mainly discussed conflict and change and how each of them were affected by the merger. It was a valuable opportunity to be able to listen and learn about the panel's experiences within the field. Joel had to take on quite a challenge because clearly both the men's and women's athletic departments wanted to continue to operate the way that they had been operating but they had to become more open to change. Of course there was a bit of resistance at first, but I am convinced that Joel was the right man for this job because I think that his fellow ADs and coaches have a lot of respect for him.

I also agree, the discussion was mostly based around how the changes affected them after the merger and how they dealt with any conflicts that may of come about. It was quite the task in merging the two departments but I feel as though Maturi and his staff did a good job. It is hard to come in and take both programs into a merger without some problems or conflicts arising, but Maturi handled them well and we now have a wonderful athletic department.

-Erica Willerton