Does Athletic Success Generate Legislative Largess from Sports-Crazed Representatives? The Impact of Athletic Success on State Appropriations to Colleges and Universities, pp. 253-267

Donald Alexander
William Kern

State supported universities have been investing considerable sums in intercollegiate athletics in the hope that such investments will pay off in terms of increased enrollments, improved student quality, and economic benefits such as revenues from ticket sales and bowl and tournament appearances. Does athletic success also yield returns in the form of greater state appropriations? This paper finds that there is some evidence to support this contention though the impact on state appropriations appears to be concentrated more heavily on the members of Division I-A with winning football or basketball programs. There appears to be little impact for schools that are members of Divisions I-AA, II, or III or on DI-A schools that fail to attain on-field success. It also appears that conference affiliation has little impact on appropriations as well. These findings call into question the benefit of continued investment in intercollegiate athletics by schools in these divisions or by schools with little chance of athletic success at the Division I-A level.