Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation

1-2021

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department

Health and Sport Sciences

Degree Program

Educational Leadership and Organizational Development, PhD

Committee Chair

Greenwell, T. Chris

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Hums, Mary

Committee Member

Hums, Mary

Committee Member

Frederick, Evan

Committee Member

Shuck, Michael B.

Author's Keywords

athletic success; sense of community; enrollment; applications

Abstract

With each passing year, FBS collegiate athletic departments are faced with increased expenditures (Huml et al., 2019). Subsequently, institutional funding has become an increasingly common and controversial method of athletic department funding (Jewell, 2020). These spending and subsidization patterns are commonly met with controversy, causing the need to further unpack the benefits that schools receive from these behaviors. One anticipated benefit of athletic success is increased numbers of student applications. While the impact of football and basketball success on student interest (the “Flutie Effect) has been a popular topic in sport management literature, there is a lack of primary data to explain the relationship between these two variables. Specifically, the extent to which football and basketball success influences students’ enrollment decisions, not just their applications decisions is unknown. Moreover, despite research on collegiate athletics’ ability to foster campus sense of community (SOC), no research to date has uncovered how campus SOC changes with team performance. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine football and basketball success’ impact on student enrollment decisions, campus sense of community (SOC), and enrollment satisfaction, while also attempting to uncover the most important factors to students’ subjective success perceptions. The current study included 225 FBS undergraduate students. Responses were collected using a combination of administering surveys through Amazon Mechanical Turk, freshmen Facebook pages, and university professors/institutional officials. Results indicated football and 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 basketball success perceptions were found to significantly predict SOC, with SOC also significantly predicting enrollment satisfaction. Findings suggest that when attempting to justify their spending and subsidization by citing potential student interest, colleges and universities should avoid over-emphasizing team performance. Rather, they should concentrate their efforts on using football and 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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