Doctoral Dissertations

      The purpose of this project was to optimize football stadium evacuation time by integrating geo-computation with affordance theory from perceptual psychology to account for evacuee characteristics: age, gender, physical fitness, alcohol consumption, and prior experience attending football games at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM), evacuating from large, outdoor public places, and with hazard events.
     According to the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT) Act, football stadiums are part of the country’s critical infrastructure warranting special government protection. Evacuation modeling was identified as an important component of game day emergency preparation. Research shows that: (1) the age, gender, and physical fitness of an individual impact his/her locomotion speed; (2) evacuation route choice is influenced by the perception of its safety and effectiveness; and (3) prior evacuation experience affects evacuation decision-making processes. By including these factors, this research, conducted at USM’s M.M. Roberts Stadium, represents the reality of evacuee movement and behaviors that influence stadium evacuation time.
     A questionnaire-based survey was administered to game attendees prior to a USM home game to gather evacuee attribute data that influenced locomotion speed. This data, plus secondary spatial data, were used in an agent-based model to model individual evacuee movement. The time required for all evacuees to exit the stadium and campus was 165.16 minutes. This time was significantly shorter than evacuation times from the same location using non-location-specific evacuee locomotion speeds, suggesting that use of local data is vital to accurately depicting evacuation time. The findings also indicated that age and gender were the two main factors that impacted locomotion speeds.
     The main contributions of this study were: (1) optimizing evacuation time by using location-specific locomotion speeds and (2) providing insights into how evacuees’ physical and mental health influences their evacuation decision-making processes. The U.S. government and sports management industry could use these findings to increase game day safety and security. Due to the spatiotemporal nature of evacuation modeling and perceptions of evacuees that impact evacuation time, this research contributed to the fields of geography, computer science, sport management, psychology, and emergency management.

      Professional sporting events represent an increasingly growing segment of the national economy and, as a pastime, include annual participation from hundreds of millions of spectators. Providing effective safety and security for these events is a daunting task. Many professional sport venues are iconic structures for mass gatherings that represent susceptible targets for crises such as rising episodes of fan violence, natural disasters, and acts of terrorism.
      As concerns are ongoing, professional sport organizations need security professionals who not only have the competencies to manage a crisis, but who also lead an organization post-crisis in order to affect organizational learning and improvement. A combination of crisis management and crisis leadership competencies has been developed through this research and form the dependent variables of the newly formed Crisis Readiness Score (CRS) research instrument.
      The study documents and establishes a baseline for the perceived levels of these crisis readiness competencies. Through hypothesis testing, the study also examines the relationships between education levels, experience levels, and participation in training on the crisis readiness competencies. The study targeted individuals responsible for security at six major professional sport venues throughout the United States and Canada. The questionnaire was sent to 151 security directors with 71 of the surveys completed. A statistical multiple regression was performed to analyze the hypotheses. Education level was not found to be a significant predictor of crisis readiness competency development. Both experience level and participation in training were found to be significant predictors of crisis readiness competency development.
      The study enhances previous collegiate sport security research by identifying the level of competencies held by the professional sport security workforce. The findings also establish a baseline to which subsequent measures of such competencies can be compared.

      The purpose of this study is to examine the COOP preparedness of NCAA Division 1 athletic departments and determine whether there are significant differences among athletic programs based on geographic location; conference membership; student enrollment; presidential declared disaster experience; athletic budget; and type of institution (public vs. private).
      Participants of this study included a stratified, voluntary sample of athletic directors and facility directors from NCAA Division 1 athletic programs (N=344). Approximately 91 participants successfully completed the survey for a response rate of 26%. The survey instrument addressed two separate categories: 1) continuity of operations preparedness (26-items); and 2) general demographic information (geographic location, conference membership, student enrollment, presidential disaster experience, athletic budget, and type of institution). Continuity of operations preparedness questions were derived from the FEMA CPMC standards. Question items were assessed using a 5-point Likert scale and categories were defined as:1 = no progress (no progress has been made toward achieving the identified continuity requirement); 2 = limited progress (preliminary efforts have been initiated such as plans to develop this aspect of the capability); 3 = moderate progress (significant efforts are underway but important gaps remain); 4 = substantial progress (efforts in this area are established and mature, with few non-significant gaps); and 5 = objective achieved (requirement is fully achieved with regard to this capability) (FEMA Continuity Evaluation Tool, 2009). The total score from the 26-items was used to measure the institution’s level of preparedness.
      Continuity of operations preparedness of NCAA division I schools overall fell below 4.0 on a 5.0 scale, indicating that significant efforts are underway but important gaps remain. Furthermore, some athletic conferences reported scores below 3.0, indicating very limited progress. There were no statistically significant differences based on geographic location, conference membership, student enrollment, presidential disaster experience, and type of institution. These findings oppose the geographic proximity, temporal proximity, size of organization, and ownership of organization (private vs. public) as influential factors for COOP proposed by Dunaway (2010) and Woodman (2007). Athletic departments should be concerned with the perceived lack of COOP preparedness. Specifically, there is a need for improvement in training and exercises which support the previous studies of Beckman (2006) and Baker, et al. (2007). NCAA stakeholders need to address gaps and aid policy makers in the implementation of standard COOP measures. In conclusion, athletic departments should review and adhere to FEMA’s guidelines and standard procedures for COOP preparedness.

The purpose of this study was to document the perceived levels of knowledge and skills of the persons responsible for sport event security management in intercollegiate athletics. The study targeted individuals responsible for event security duties, such as event management and facility operations athletic directors at Division I-A football schools (N=81). The study addressed the perceptions of their abilities, experiences, training, and education. Sixty-two percent of all respondents reported having no formal training, education, or certifications in event security management. Gaps or areas of concern in security management capabilities of athletic department staff were identified and will aid in the future development of education, training, and certification programs.

Knowing that exercises are a valuable tool for sporting venues in their training repertoire, the first purpose of this study was to implement a tabletop exercise at a Division I-A collegiate institution to evaluate the current emergency response plan. The second purpose of the study was to highlight deficiencies, areas of concern, and ideas for improvement in the current emergency response plan and to make recommendations for policy and procedure changes as well as identify the party responsible for any such changes. The researcher found that participants in the tabletop exercise rated themselves as having a significantly higher level of awareness and perception regarding emergency response at the institution's home football games in the post-test than in the pre-test. Additional results from the tabletop exercise included the identification of areas of concern, primarily communication, and recommendations for improvement, such as naming the person responsible for making changes to emergency plans.

The purpose of this study was to establish standards for effective security management of university sport venues. The researcher developed standards through a series of interviews and a Delphi study. Importance ratings for standards were also assessed. Purposeful sampling was used to select participants for both the interviews and Delphi panel. Four sport security personnel participated in the interview process and an initial set of standards were developed and used for the Delphi study. The 28 member Delphi panel included the athletic facility manager, campus police chief, local sheriff, and local emergency management director responsible for game day security operations at seven state-supported universities in Mississippi. A total 134 standards in eleven categories were determined by the researcher. These included: Perimeter Control, Access Control, Credentialing, Physical Protection Systems, Risk Management, Emergency Management, Recovery Procedures, Communications, Security Personnel, Training, Modeling, and Simulation, and WMD � Toxic Materials Protection.