Big-Time Sports in American Universities

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Second, a study by the economists Devin and Jaren Pope indicates that successful big-time football and basketball programs help institutions improve both the quantity and quality of student enrollments — which are both a source of revenue and a reflection of broader public perceptions. For example, the authors estimate that winning the national championship in football generates a 10 percent increase in enrollments the following year.

Third, big-time sports universities clearly leverage their programs to curry favor with powerful people — for example, by giving away free or discounted football tickets to state legislators. Professor Clotfelter analyzed lists of V. Finally, there appears to be a significant positive relationship between big-time sports programs and state university funding. Thus, the available evidence suggests that big-time sports can in fact generate big-time support for their institutions, far beyond what a narrow accounting of revenues and expenses might imply.

But the centrality of sports is not without risk. Plus, I hope that my book will motivate other researchers to take this question seriously and come up with new findings relevant to this question. A sidelight: One of your more innovative analyses -- in a discussion of how universities use sports to court donors and politicians -- was to request information from a group of universities about who sat in their presidents' boxes and received complimentary tickets to games.

Fully half the public institutions with which you filed open-records requests turned you down or gave you useless information. My favorite, from Berkeley: "The public interest served here by protecting the identity of major or potential donors, and thereby increasing the likelihood of acquiring financial support for the university, outweighs any incidental interest served by disclosing who those individuals are. In what ways do you consider your attempt to bring rigorous data to the analysis of the pros and cons of big-time college sports to have been successful, and in what ways did it fall short?

Which questions proved most clearly answerable, and which impossible to answer? Are there categories or types of data that universities should provide that would help clarify the picture?

Big-Time Sports in American Universities

A: My M. I tried to make it an empirical book about universities, not about sports. One result was that I used lots of varieties of information that had not previously been used in this connection. One analysis I was pleased with was my attempt to address a question that has been written about but never really analyzed: how does a media event like the NCAA tournament affect patterns of work?


Perhaps the most useful data for studying larger questions about finances is the revenue and expense information that news organizations, including the Indianapolis Star and USA Today, have collected by taking advantage of state open records laws. Virtually no private universities, by the way, make such data available. I suspect your conclusions may prove unsatisfying to critics and supporters alike; critics because, in several places, you provide fodder for arguments that big-time sports helps the institutions by endorsing the view that sports programs help colleges attract students, including highly capable ones, for instance , and supporters because you embrace the idea that big-time sports is a commercial enterprise, not an academic, student-driven one.

Did you hope that your analysis would have provided a clearer, thumbs-up or thumbs-down conclusion?

Big Time Sports in American Universities

A: Right you are. Nobody, but my wife, likes everything in the book. I was pretty agnostic when I started out about how the results would pan out. At the same time, I certainly did have two preconceived objectives: first, to let the facts speak for themselves, and, second, to avoid expending much effort worrying about detailed proposals for reform.

I figured there was plenty of opinion already surrounding big-time sports, its problems, and reform proposals. What was needed, I thought, was more factual analysis. A: Unapologetically, yes, though perhaps not the most ardent one.

I was lucky enough to attend a few Georgia Tech football games as a youngster, I cheered at Duke games as a student, and I pulled for Maryland and Duke as a faculty member. As much as any fan, I am drawn to the likable hero, I am thrilled by the trick play that works, and I am mesmerized by the unlikely comeback from certain defeat.

Big-Time Sports in American Universities by Charles T. Clotfelter

What I kept reminding myself while I was working on this book, though, is: this great entertainment spectacle is a product of universities, whose research and teaching functions could not be more different! Why would this be appropriate?

How likely is this to come about? And what would be the impact? A: The income tax deduction we have for charitable donations is usually justified on the basis that these gifts go for socially virtuous purposes like education or community service. In contrast, much of the work of contemporary college athletic departments is purely commercial. Were they not attached to a university, these departments would probably be classified by government statisticians in the entertainment industry, alongside amusement parks and minor league professional teams.

Would it be easy to amend the tax law to cut out what is commercial from what is educational? Is it likely?

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No again. The impact? Given the growing importance of contributions to finance some of the most prominent college sports programs, probably noticeable. Be the first to know. Get our free daily newsletter. View the discussion thread. Just Visiting. Advice for students so they don't sound silly in emails essay. A Final Nail in the Coffin for Turnitin? Massive surge in college student voting in California passes bill allowing athletes to be paid for name, image and likeness. New data: Online enrollments grow, and share of overall enrollment grows faster.

Big-Time Sports in American Universities Big-Time Sports in American Universities
Big-Time Sports in American Universities Big-Time Sports in American Universities
Big-Time Sports in American Universities Big-Time Sports in American Universities
Big-Time Sports in American Universities Big-Time Sports in American Universities
Big-Time Sports in American Universities Big-Time Sports in American Universities
Big-Time Sports in American Universities Big-Time Sports in American Universities
Big-Time Sports in American Universities Big-Time Sports in American Universities

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