“Challenging the Myth”

Will bigtime sports be the savior of a university?  Rutgers AD Robert Mulcahy often seems to promise as much — but the research, alas, says he is flatly mistaken.

Here is a summary from a Knight Commission investigation of the impacts of bigtime college sports on a school’s bottomline: 

“Do successful college athletic programs stimulate additional applications from prospective students and greater contributions by alumni and other donors? And if so, is it likely that additional investment in such programs is a cost-effective way of increasing these benefits?

“In this paper I first consider these questions from a theoretical perspective that focuses on the economic incentives confronting institutions that participate in big-time college athletics. I then review numerous empirical studies that have attempted to measure various aspects of the relationships between athletic success and success in other domains.

“The findings reported in these studies are mixed, but the overall message is easily summarized: It is that if success in athletics does generate the indirect benefits in question, the effects are almost surely very small.”

Read the full paper here.

That report, by the way, is four years old but apparently it has not made its way to Dick McCormick’s desk.  Feel free to email it to him.


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