The economics of big-time college football

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Having a great sports record does more than boost school spirit. Economist Michael Anderson, of the University of California at Berkeley, looked at the impact of a winning football record at the 350-odd schools that play NCAA Division I football. He finds that schools that see a big improvement in their record winning five more games in a single season can expect to reap big benefits, in terms of both donations and the quality of their incoming students:

This school may expect alumni athletic donations to increase by $682,000 (28%), applications to increase by 677 (5%), the acceptance rate to drop by 1.5 percentage points (2%), in-state enrollment to increase by 76 students (3%), and incoming 25th percentile SAT scores to increase by 9 points (1%).

Anderson concludes that his findings could further justify schools’ investment in their big sports teams and that’s on top of the large profits that winning schools already reap from merchandise, TV rights and other cash cows.

Via Suzy Khimm of the Washington Post.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.