From football and across the board of sports, college athletics benefit schools across the country in both tangible and intangible ways.
One of the most valuable ways athletics help is through money. According to a USA Today report, in the 2016-2017 school year, 31 Division I schools made more than $100 million in revenue. In that same year, Troy University made $29.9 million.
When a school is successful in athletics, the school starts to be remembered on that basis. And certain schools become known for specific sports.
The University of Kentucky is known for basketball and, the University of Alabama is known for football. Likewise, when smaller schools find success, they find a boost in marketability and name recognition.
In 1984, when Boston College upset Miami on a miracle play by Doug Flutie, it saw its college applications rise by 30 percent in the next two years, as reported by Forbes Magazine. Forbes called it the “Flutie Effect.”
Appalachian State, Troy’s rival in the Sun Belt, experienced a similar shot of fame when it beat nationally-ranked Michigan in 2007. Appalachian State saw its applications rise by 15 percent after the upset win, and over the next decade, it saw an annual increase of three percent.
While Appalachian State did have a successful program before this, much of the newfound fame came from a single football game. The win, according to many Mountaineer fans, put the school on the map. One blocked-kick by Corey Lynch gave the university that much more.
The aforementioned Forbes article cited research by Doug Chung, a professor at Harvard Business School.
“The primary form of mass media advertising by academic institutions in the United States is, arguably, through their athletic programs,” said Chung.
This effect can also be seen in our own school.
Troy University has seen its stock rise after a multitude of successes across all sports in the past few seasons.
Most notably, Troy garnered a lot of press attention when it beat LSU on the road in 2017.
The university’s Twitter account tweeted at LSU about the homecoming game in Baton Rouge, where the tweet got over 60,000 retweets, making it viral across the web and got attention in ESPN’s flagship show, SportsCenter.
Chung’s research backs up that effect experienced at Boston College and Appalachian State.
Chung says that when a school “rises from mediocre to great on the gridiron, applications increase by 18.7 percent.”
His findings also show that athletic success affects morale and general enthusiasm at universities.
After beating LSU, the win was all Troy students talked about for weeks. And to this day, that particular win sticks in the memories of players, students, coaches and alumni.
Athletics provide both tangible and intangible benefits to their universities.
Money is a driving force, but branding, free media and advertising in the modern era all contribute to a university’s success.
Football is arguably the most popular sport at Troy and many other universities, but all sports contribute to benefiting the school as a whole.