Cut from the Same Cloth: An Examination of Attachment to College Football Coaches

Michael Mudrick and Janet Fink

With increased exposure on college athletics, coaches are often subject to augmented attention from fans. However, little research has focused on the drawing power that coaches exude as essential components of the sport product. Given the tenets of social identity theory, which focus on the value of group membership and the development of prototype characteristics and associated biases within a group and its leaders, it is reasonable to suggest that coaches induce fan attachment. Multiple regression analyses revealed that perceived congruence between the coach and prototype for the program was positively related to attachment to a coach. Team identification moderated that relationship. Additionally, attachment to a coach was positively related to behavioral intentions. These findings contribute to sport social identity research regarding preferred leadership characteristics. Practically, a demonstration of the salience of congruence between coach and perceived attributes related to program norms may serve as an integral marketing tool.