Abstract

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to analyze how three universities utilized image repair to address crises involving their athletic departments. Specifically, this study analyzed how the University of Missouri–Columbia, Baylor University, and the University of Louisville employed Facebook to engage in image repair. Additionally, this study examined users’ responses to these image-repair strategies via the theoretical framework of framing. A deductive thematic analysis was employed to examine image-repair strategies, while an inductive thematic analysis was employed to examine users’ comments. The data analysis revealed that the most frequently employed strategies across all three universities were bolstering, stonewalling, and corrective action. The employment of similar image-repair strategies by all three universities suggests that despite the varying level of institutional crisis, universities mostly rely on bolstering and diversionary techniques to disrupt the media noise surrounding the crisis faced by their athletic departments, while employing corrective action minimally in the hopes of making maximum impact. Additionally, this study highlights the ability of audiences to utilize social media to generate narratives via bottom-up framing. Findings suggest that these narratives often shift due to the timing of image-repair efforts and the severity of the institution’s crisis.

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