The effects of athletic success on college enrollment applications
Athletic events take place daily on many college campuses. Some of these events have outcomes that leave a school as a highlight for the day or even more as an iconic moment for a generation. Boston College’s Doug Flutie created an iconic moment when he threw a “Hail Mary” pass in the end zone to win a game against the University of Miami in 1984. The result of this event and the winning college football season was an increase in new college enrollment applications at Boston College. This occurrence is now termed the “Flutie Effect.” Other universities have claimed to have similar experiences with athletic success and enrollment growth. In 2008, Texas Tech University had a winning football season and an iconic moment of its own. Receiver Michael Crabtree made a nationally televised catch in the last seconds of the game against the number one ranked University of Texas Longhorns, to lead Texas Tech to victory. This study investigated whether Texas Tech University saw similar enrollment growths after its athletic success and iconic moment. Second, the study seeks to modify current college choice models to include athletic success of a college or university as part of a student’s college choice decision. A researcher-developed survey and historical enrollment application data were used to determine if the “Flutie Effect” influences new student enrollments at colleges and universities that have seen athletic success in their collegiate football programs. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to assess the collected data. The survey results indicated that athletic success does have some effect on students’ interest in applying to colleges and universities that have seen collegiate success in their football programs. Enrollment applications consistently grew for the institution with freshmen applicants, but growth was not consistent among transfer and graduate students. There is limited research on athletic success and the effects it can have on a college and university, especially on new student enrollment applications. The results of the study contribute to the current literature and are a start in looking at college choice decisions when related to athletic success at colleges and universities.