Mike Dariano

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Intercollegiate athletics not intercollegiate mathletics

On an informal interview for a school the superintendent showed me the large display cases right as students, parents, staff and visitors entered the school. It was adorned with athletics plaques, shredded basketball nets and pictures of athletically successful students. This made me wonder, so what, in what ways have those outcomes led to future successes and is this true at all levels. It turns out in one way it does.

Intercollegiate athletics may also be interpreted as a signal of overall quality of the output of a school by state legislators. The benefits of an outstanding department in the humanities or a Nobel Prize winning chemist might not be apparent to the state legislators deciding on annual appropriates to the state university, but fielding a successful Division 1-A football team puts the university in the news frequently and prominently.

Does that mean that state legislators use football (athletic) success as a guide for funding (academic) institutions? It looks so.

Results suggest that winning the "big game" (rivalry or bowl game) is associate with an increase in appropriations of about ... 7%.

The study is here.

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