A 2003 study done by "The Sport Journal" linked respect for a college with an involved athletic program. This image positively affects the perception of academic quality and promotes the value of an earned degree. College athletics are linked to recruiting students, shaping their campus experiences and increasing revenue streams.
Attending athletic events and cheering on a team generates school spirit. At some universities, a football game will draw thousands of people. School spirit was No. 3 in a "Duke Today" article listing the top five reasons universities have athletic programs. Campus energy from an athletic event creates student-life memories and enhances the overall campus experience.
There was a 22 percent increase in applications in 2006 when the George Mason University basketball team made it to the NCAA Final Four. After quarterback Doug Flutie was awarded the Heisman Trophy in 1984, Boston College experienced a sharp increase in prospective student interest. As a result, “The Flutie Effect” was coined the term for an increase in applications after a significant athletic accomplishment. Athletic programs market sports events and the university. Visibility attracts the attention of prospective students and their parents. Scholarships offered to student athletes and recruitment of prospective students contribute to overall enrollment efforts.
Universities leverage athletic events to raise funds for special academic projects. For example, Duke set aside $1 from each home game ticket for library initiatives. "Elite Daily," an online publication targeting Generation Y readers, describes athletics as “one of the biggest revenue builders for schools nationwide.” Funding is generated from ticket sales, concessions, television contracts, advertising, camps and donor support. Athletics provide an avenue for alumni and private donors to connect to the institution. This translates into donated dollars.
Athletic programs contribute to the prestige of a university. Small campuses seek classification in Division I ranks to maintain marketplace competition. Likewise, negative issues can tarnish a reputation. "The Huffington Post" wrote an article about the worst scandals in college sports. At the top of the list was the 2011 child sex abuse scandal at Penn State. This case resulted in the dismissal of senior administrators and marred the credibility of the institution.
- The Sports Journal: High-Visibility Athletic Programs and the Prestige of Public Universities
- Colorado State University, Office of the President: Athletics – Why and At What Cost?
- Duke Today: Top 5 Reasons Universities Have Big-Time Athletics Programs
- St. Mary's of California: Success in Sports – Does It Bring in More College Applications?
- The Atlantic: Would Colleges Be Better Off Without Football?
- Athletics Development Frontier: Fundraising Partnerships between Athletics and Academics
- Change: A Game Change: Paying for Big-Time College Sports
- Huffington Post: A List of the Worst Scandals in College Sports
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