NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Conflicts of Interest Distort Public Evaluations: Evidence from the Top 25 Ballots of NCAA Football Coaches

Matthew Kotchen, Matthew Potoski

NBER Working Paper No. 17628
Issued in November 2011
NBER Program(s):   EEE   PE

This paper provides a study on conflicts of interest among college football coaches participating in the USA Today Coaches Poll of top 25 teams. The Poll provides a unique empirical setting that overcomes many of the challenges inherent in conflict of interest studies, because many agents are evaluating the same thing, private incentives to distort evaluations are clearly defined and measurable, and there exists an alternative source of computer rankings that is bias free. Using individual coach ballots between 2005 and 2010, we find that coaches distort their rankings to reflect their own team's reputation and financial interests. On average, coaches rank teams from their own athletic conference nearly a full position more favorably and boost their own team's ranking more than two full positions. Coaches also rank teams they defeated more favorably, thereby making their own team look better. When it comes to ranking teams contending for one of the high-profile Bowl Championship Series (BCS) games, coaches favor those teams that generate higher financial payoffs for their own team. Reflecting the structure of payoff disbursements, coaches from non-BCS conferences band together, while those from BCS conferences more narrowly favor teams in their own conference. Among all coaches an additional payoff between $3.3 and $5 million induces a more favorable ranking of one position. Moreover, for each increase in a contending team's payoff equal to 10 percent of a coach's football budget, coaches respond with more favorable rankings of half a position, and this effect is more than twice as large when coaches rank teams outside the top 10.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from SSRN.com ($5) for electronic delivery.

Information about Free Papers

You should expect a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.

E-mail:

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w17628

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Anderson w18196 The Benefits of College Athletic Success: An Application of the Propensity Score Design with Instrumental Variables
Nakamura, Steinsson, and Liu w19893 Are Chinese Growth and Inflation Too Smooth? Evidence from Engel Curves
Lindo, Swensen, and Waddell w17677 Are Big-Time Sports a Threat to Student Achievement?
Massey and Thaler w11270 Overconfidence vs. Market Efficiency in the National Football League
Monks and Ehrenberg w7227 The Impact of US News and World Report College Rankings on Admission Outcomes and Pricing Decisions at Selective Private Institutions
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us