The Importance of College Athletic Programs to Universities


College sports programs provide a number of benefits to the schools they represent. From college basketball's March Madness to college football's Bowl Championship Series, college sports are hard to escape. Even if you aren't the most avid sports fan, chances are that you own a sweatshirt with the name of your favorite college emblazoned across the chest. This kind of exposure is very important to the success of colleges and universities throughout the country.


  • College sports teams provide the opportunity for schools to be recognized on a national scale. A good football or basketball team generally creates more widespread interest in a school than an academic program. For example, according to a study on the impact of college sports success on the quantity and quality of student applications, colleges that make it to the "Sweet 16" Round of the NCAA basketball tournament see application increases of 3 percent. After George Mason University made it to the Final Four in 2006, the number of applicants increased by 20 percent the following year. Colleges with top football programs each year also see a 2 to 8 percent increase in the applicant pool.


  • Most people are under the impression that college athletics bring in a lot of money for schools. This isn't necessarily the case, considering the costs of recruiting and scholarships, paying coaches and maintaining athletic facilities and equipment. However, programs do generate revenue, thanks to ticket and merchandise sales, alumni support and incentives from the athletic conferences. On average, basketball and football provide the most income for schools.

Alumni Support

  • Every college and university wants to build a strong relationship with its alumni. A college sports program serves as a great way to build a strong base of alumni. This alumni base shows potential students that the college has enough to offer and is a place of integrity that former students want to be involved with it long after their academic career is over.


  • Colleges see increased application rates and interest if they are more well-known and often become more well-known because of the success of their athletic programs. If a team wins, merchandise with that team's logo or the name of the school become more popular. This acts as free advertising for the school and the athletic program becomes a part of the brand the college is trying to sell to potential students.

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