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The Flutie Effect

January 5, 2007

Most people are probably somewhat aware of the Flutie effect but they didn’t know that it had a name. It basically is the concept that a successful football team (and to a lesser degree basketball and other sports) improves the quality of the student body, which helps the graduation rate, etc. Unless you are an alum or closely follow the SAC NCAA Div II schools perhaps you didn’t know that my Alma Mater is going to be a Division I/I-AA school now.

“Presbyterian College is committed to excellence in academics and in
all that we do for our students. This move will further strengthen PC
by incorporating the strategic plan for athletics into PC: 2010, the
college’s strategic plan,” PC president John Griffith said.
“Membership in Division I/I-AA football will complement our central
academic and student life priorities and will allow greater
opportunities to play many of our historic rivals.”

I was really on the fence about this initially. At first glance it seems kinda dumb, why would a small 1200 student school want to go against much larger schools that have a significantly better athletic pool to draw from, not to mention well established recruiting programs. Then a few things dawned on me. Playing against Duke, Gonzaga or some other top 25 basketball program, even if it’s pre-season, is great exposure. Sure you will probably get blown out, but imagine the press if you scored the upset and won. If you play a school like that and it’s televised then you would get a chunk of the broadcast rights. All this leads to the Flutie effect. Boston College was a whipping boy 10 years ago, they are a contender now.

It’s all speculation of course, as they talk about in the article the long term effects of athletic programs on enrollment, graduation, and recruitment haven’t been effectively quantified. As far as alumni support I think it depends on how strong their resolve is to keep giving money to a program that gets it’s tailed kicked week-in and week-out till they can get over that hump and get better.

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Categories: Ramblings
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