I have stated before, a number of times actually, that collegiate athletics can really pay dividends to a university as a whole. I have also reported on others viewpoints regarding the subject. This includes one of the more famous incidents when Ken Krayeske accosted Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun regarding his salary.
Unfortunately, what Krayeske and others fail to register is just how much value a successful basketball and/or football program brings to a university.
The latest case in point is George Mason University.
[George Mason University Center for Sport Management director Robert] Baker found that requests for information about GMU jumped by 350 percent. Applications from out-of-state students swelled by 40 percent and all freshman year applications increased by 22 percent. Computer-generated applications rose by 52 percent and alumni interest in the school jumped by 25 percent. Page views on the sports division’s website soared by 503 percent and unique viewers by 702 percent. Almost everything that had to do with GMU’s sports division rose drastically.
Not to mention that GMU earned an estimated $678 million when factoring in free local, regional, and national print and electronic media coverage due to their Final Four appearance.
That is a LARGE increase regarding the universities applicants. That is part of what athletics at the collegiate level are all about. It makes people want to be a part of a university. Simply put people like winners. Furthermore, getting a university’s athletic programs on national television gives the university increased visibility and reach.
On the other hand, colleges which try desperately to reach the top level of athletics can hurt themselves if they are not careful.
For example; I had no idea which State University of New York (SUNY) campus was the most reputable. Little did I know it is largely regarding to be SUNY Binghamton. I just thought it was just another random SUNY college in western New York state. Contrastingly, I’ve heard it called the “Ivy” university of the SUNY system by multiple New Yorkers.
This athletics thing can work both ways.
After Binghamton took on troubled former Syracuse recruit and UMass player Emanuel ‘Tiki’ Mayben, I had a totally different view of the university. What kind of school takes on a kid who was shunned from two other schools? I assumed it to not be a great school.
Why would an all around good university like Binghamton do that? To get there athletics on the map. And, of course, it worked and Tiki led the Bearcats to an American East tournament title and their first NCAA Tournament birth.
But success is fleeting sometimes — this past September Tiki was charged with selling crack up in Binghamton.
So, as you can see, a school that can get it’s athletics programs on the map can really benefit (George Mason). While a school that takes shortcuts to gain prominence quickly will likely fall just as fast (Binghamton).
When achieved in the correct manner, a winning athletics program can be a major selling point for a university.
College Basketball: A Billion Dollar Business [Epoch Times]