Distributive Justice in Intercollegiate Athletics: An Examination of Equality, Revenue Production, and Need

Publication Title

Journal of Sport Management

Publication Date


Document Type



Distributive justice, intercollegiate athletics, sport management, sports finance


Business | Sports Management


Research has indicated that need-based distributions are often perceived to be the fairest method for distributing resources in intercollegiate athletics. Mahony, Hums, and Riemer (2005) examined definitions of need and identified 3 subprinciples: need because of lack of resources, need because of high operating expenses, and need to be competitively successful. The current study examined the perceived fairness of distributions based on these subprinciples of need, equality of treatment, and revenue production, as well as the differences in perceptions based on gender, NCAA division, and scenario. Although need because of lack of resources was consistently rated as fairer than most or all of the other distribution methods, perceptions of the other methods varied based on the scenario. Further analysis indicated that men were more likely to perceive revenue production as fair, whereas women preferred equality. In addition, Division I administrators were more likely to rate need to be competitively successful and revenue production as fair.