The Flutie Effect: The Influence of College Football Upsets and National Championships on the Quantity and Quality of Students at a University

Austin F. Eggers
Peter A. Groothuis
and Parker T. Redding

Using a panel study of universities, we find that football success, as measured either by an upset win or winning a national championship, increases applications and enrollment at a university. Surprisingly, we further find that losing an upset game also increases student enrollment numbers. When examining the academic quality of incoming students following one of these events, we encounter mixed results. Our findings indicate that winning a national champion-ship lowers the number of students enrolling at a school from the top 10%, and between the top 10% to top 25%, of their high school class. However, we also find that winning either a national championship or an upset victory in-creases the average high school grade point average of students who choose to enroll at the school. Overall, our results suggest that athletics serve as a consumption amenity, leading students to apply and enroll at the university.