Economics of College Sports

By John Fizel; Rodney Fort | Go to book overview

6

Why Do U.S. Colleges Have Sports Programs?

Robert Sandy and Peter Sloane


INTRODUCTION

When the Faculty Senate at IUPUI was considering a motion to endorse a switch from National Collegiate Athletics Association (hereafter NCAA) Division II to NCAA Division I-AAA, the campus administration argued that switching to the higher-level sports program would increase both student numbers and quality. They claimed that the one hundred extra athletes required for the higher-level program to be recruited through athletic scholarships would directly increase enrollments. 1 In spite of the fee increase charged to all students to support the athletics program, it was argued that the sports program's publicity and favorable image would attract additional students who had no connection to athletics. The higher-profile athletics program would supposedly draw between two and four additional students per athlete to IUPUI. Moreover, the athletes' SAT scores and ranks within their high school graduating classes would be higher than the average of the rest of the IUPUI student body. The administration's sanguine predictions appear to be completely at odds with the claims in many books and reports on the impact of intercollegiate sports aimed at the general public, i.e., almost all sports programs drain university resources and reduce student quality. (Duderstadt, 2000; Knight Commission Report, 1999; and Sperber, 1990 and 2000).

Intercollegiate sports in the United States are comparable to professional team sports in terms of their drawing power, in the case of both live attendances

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