This article seeks to enhance the understanding as to why head coaches and general managers (GMs) in the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Football League (NFL) exit from their positions.
Three hypotheses were investigated using a series of quantitative and qualitative data from the past 30 years. The samples analyzed are comprised of 891 GM and coach annual observations for the NBA clubs and 949 GM and coach observations for the NFL clubs. Analyses include a logit analysis for coach exit/retention, a logit analysis for GM exit/retention and textual analysis via topic modeling via latent Dirichlet allocation.
Results show a correlation between a coach exiting and a GM exiting simultaneously, thus amplifying the importance of these two roles in enhancing or destroying the success of a club and supporting the need for a deeper understanding of both roles, particularly the GM. The results further highlight cultural differences across clubs in terms of GM and coach turnover, a factor that often is heavily influenced by club ownership.
The results support the role of owners in exits, confirm the importance of winning in avoiding an exit, find a high level of interrelationship between GM and coach exits and show that past culture of firings influences future exit decisions.