Re-Visiting the Flutie Effect: An Exploration of Athletic Success and its Impact on Student Enrollment Decisions

Authors
Addison Pond – Saint Mary’s College of California
T. Christopher Greenwell – University of Louisville

Abstract
Increased athletic department spending makes it important for institutions to examine the benefits they receive from athletic success. The impact of football and men’s basketball success on enrollment decisions (i.e., the “Flutie Effect”), campus sense of community (SOC), and enrollment satisfaction was examined amongst 225 students across nine Football Bowl Subdivision institutions. Results indicated that football and men’s basketball success perceptions did not significantly predict the importance of athletics in students’ enrollment decisions. Rather, team identification was found to be the strongest predictor. However, football and men’s basketball success perceptions were found to significantly predict SOC, regardless of team identification levels, with SOC also significantly predicting enrollment satisfaction. These findings suggest that when citing potential student interest to justify their spending and subsidization, colleges and universities should avoid over-emphasizing team performance. Rather, they should concentrate their efforts on using football and men’s basketball success to convert potential students into highly identified fans. Once students enroll at their respective universities, institutions may be able to place more emphasis on football and basketball success and its ability to strengthen campus climate and student satisfaction levels.

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