The impact of winning athletic programs on college admissions applications and profile at small, private, NCAA Division I institutions
Lee, Timothy M.
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This study examined the relationship between successful athletic programs and admissions at small, private, NCAA Division I colleges. The premise of this project focused on the Flutie factor, which suggests that media coverage resulting from winning athletic programs leads to an increase in both applications for admission as well as a stronger and more academically prepared incoming class. By focusing on the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, an NCAA Division I conference comprised entirely of medium-sized private institutions, and the conference institutions whose men's basketball team appeared in the NCAA Tournament, several findings emerged. First, those institutions that witnessed athletic success realized an increase in applications and SAT scores following their championship seasons. However, when compared to the rest of the conference, the champion institution often did not witness increases in applications or SAT scores that were significantly greater than the non-champion institutions. For institutions with consecutive championships or long-term winning programs, there is insufficient evidence that the athletic success impacts admissions. Finally, as shown in case studies, athletics is best used as a complementary instrument to an institution's long-term strategic plans.