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Ivy League Athletic Performance


  • Dmitry Kotlyarenko

    (Cornell University)

  • Ronald G. Ehrenberg

    (Cornell University)


This article analyzes the determinants of undergraduate varsity athletic teams’ success in the Ivy League, a conference that prohibits athletic scholarships and holds its varsity athletes to high academic standards. The theoretical model suggests that the same factors that determine the enrollment decisions of all students who attend these institutions, namely, the institutions’ perceived academic quality and the generosity of their financial aid programs, should determine athletic performance success. In addition, the authors hypothesize that institutions whose athletes’ academic credentials are close to those of their class as a whole should have poorer records than those that accept scholar athletes whose credentials are relatively weaker as compared with their classmates. The empirical analyses use data for the 1981-1982 to 1996-1997 academic years on the number of male and female titles each institution in the conference won and the number of league games each won in men’s basketball, football, and hockey. The authors find strong support for the first two hypotheses and mixed support for the third.

Suggested Citation

  • Dmitry Kotlyarenko & Ronald G. Ehrenberg, 2000. "Ivy League Athletic Performance," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 1(2), pages 139-150, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:jospec:v:1:y:2000:i:2:p:139-150

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Martin B. Schmidt & David J. Berri, 2001. "Competitive Balance and Attendance: The Case of Major League Baseball," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 2(2), pages 145-167, May.
    2. La Croix, Sumner J & Kawaura, Akihiko, 1999. "Rule Changes and Competitive Balance in Japanese Professional Baseball," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 37(2), pages 353-368, April.
    3. Martin B. Schmidt & David J. Berri, 2004. "The Impact of Labor Strikes on Consumer Demand: An Application to Professional Sports," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 344-357, March.
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    5. Gwartney, James & Haworth, Charles, 1974. "Employer Costs and Discrimination: The Case of Baseball," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(4), pages 873-881, July/Aug..
    6. Leo Kahane & Stephen Shmanske, 1997. "Team roster turnover and attendance in major league baseball," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(4), pages 425-431.
    7. Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "The Economics of Superstars," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(5), pages 845-858, December.
    8. Martin Schmidt & David Berri, 2002. "The impact of the 1981 and 1994-1995 strikes on Major League Baseball attendance: a time-series analysis," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(4), pages 471-478.
    9. Becker, Gary S., 1971. "The Economics of Discrimination," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 2, number 9780226041162.
    10. Hoang, Ha & Rascher, Dan, 1999. "The NBA, Exit Discrimination, and Career Earnings," MPRA Paper 3542, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Whitney, James D, 1988. "Winning Games versus Winning Championships: The Economics of Fan Interest and Team Performance," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(4), pages 703-724, October.
    12. Glenn Knowles & Keith Sherony & Mike Haupert, 1992. "The Demand for Major League Baseball: A Test of the Uncertainty of Outcome Hypothesis," The American Economist, Sage Publications, vol. 36(2), pages 72-80, October.
    13. Moulton, Brent R, 1990. "An Illustration of a Pitfall in Estimating the Effects of Aggregate Variables on Micro Unit," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(2), pages 334-338, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ehrenberg, R.G.Ronald G., 2004. "Econometric studies of higher education," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 19-37.

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