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The Impact of College Sports Success on the Quantity and Quality of Student Applications


  • Devin G. Pope

    () (Department of Operations and Information Management, The Wharton School, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA)

  • Jaren C. Pope

    () (Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics (0401), Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA)


Empirical studies have produced mixed results on the relationship between a school’s sports success and the quantity and quality of students that apply to the school. This study uses two unique data sets to shed additional light on the indirect benefits that sports success provides to NCAA Division I schools. Key findings include the following: (1) football and basketball success significantly increases the quantity of applications to a school, with estimates ranging from 2% to 8% for the top 20 football schools and the top 16 basketball schools each year, (2) private schools see increases in application rates after sports success that are two to four times higher than public schools, (3) the extra applications received are composed of both low and high SAT scoring students, thus providing potential for schools to improve their admission outcomes, and (4) schools appear to exploit these increases in applications by improving both the number and the quality of incoming students.

Suggested Citation

  • Devin G. Pope & Jaren C. Pope, 2009. "The Impact of College Sports Success on the Quantity and Quality of Student Applications," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 75(3), pages 750-780, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:75:3:y:2009:p:750-780

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Pincin, Jared & Hoffer, Adam, 2013. "NCAA Athletic Departments: An Empirical Investigation of the Effects of Revenue and Conference Changes," MPRA Paper 49807, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Malcolm Getz & John Siegfried, 2010. "What Does Intercollegiate Athletics Do To or For Colleges and Universities?," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 1005, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
    3. Allen R. Sanderson & John J. Siegfried, 2015. "The Case for Paying College Athletes," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 29(1), pages 115-138, Winter.
    4. Avery, Christopher & Cadman, Brian & Cassar, Gavin, 2016. "Academics vs. Athletics: Career Concerns for NCAA Division I Coaches," Working Paper Series 16-013, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    5. Goodman, Joshua & Hurwitz, Michael & Smith, Jonathan & Fox, Julia, 2015. "The relationship between siblings’ college choices: Evidence from one million SAT-taking families," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 75-85.
    6. Adam Hoffer & Brad R. Humphreys & Donald J. Lacombe & Jane E. Ruseski, 2014. "The NCAA Athletics Arms Race: Theory and Evidence," Working Papers 14-29, Department of Economics, West Virginia University.
    7. repec:bla:coecpo:v:35:y:2017:i:4:p:658-676 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Goodman, Joshua Samuel & Goodman, Lucas & Goodman, Sarena & Goodman, Allen C., 2014. "A Few Goodmen: Surname-Sharing Co-Authors in Economics," Scholarly Articles 22805379, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    9. Philip Oreopoulos & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2011. "Priceless: The Nonpecuniary Benefits of Schooling," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(1), pages 159-184, Winter.
    10. Mulholland, Sean E. & Tomic, Aleksandar (Sasha) & Sholander, Samuel N., 2014. "The faculty Flutie factor: Does football performance affect a university's US News and World Report peer assessment score?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 79-90.
    11. Smith, Jonathan, 2013. "Ova and out: Using twins to estimate the educational returns to attending a selective college," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 166-180.
    12. Brian Jacob & Brian McCall & Kevin M. Stange, 2013. "College as Country Club: Do Colleges Cater to Students' Preferences for Consumption?," NBER Working Papers 18745, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Goodman, Joshua & Hurwitz, Michael & Smith, Jonathan & Fox, Julia, 2016. "Reprint of “The relationship between siblings’ college choices: Evidence from one million SAT-taking families”," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 125-135.
    14. Hickman Daniel C. & Meyer Andrew G., 2016. "Does Eco-labeling of Services Matter? Evidence from Higher Education," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 16(4), pages 1-18, October.
    15. Philip Oreopoulos & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2009. "How large are returns to schooling? Hint: Money isn't everything," NBER Working Papers 15339, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Michael L. Anderson, 2012. "The Benefits of College Athletic Success: An Application of the Propensity Score Design with Instrumental Variables," NBER Working Papers 18196, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. repec:eee:spomar:v:20:y:2017:i:4:p:395-407 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Julianne Treme & Robert T. Burrus, 2016. "NCAA basketball: when does recruiting talent translate into wins for power conferences?," Journal of Economics and Finance, Springer;Academy of Economics and Finance, vol. 40(4), pages 735-753, October.
    19. Dustin R. White & Benjamin W. Cowan & Jadrian Wooten, 2017. "March Madness: NCAA Tournament Participation and College Alcohol Use," NBER Working Papers 23821, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Gregory B. Murphy & Neil Tocher & Bryant Ward, 2016. "An Examination of Public Private Academic Partnerships: Does Program Success Enhance University Performance Outcomes?," Public Organization Review, Springer, vol. 16(1), pages 95-115, March.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity


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