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Intercollegiate athletic success & student interest

2007 February 14
by Skip Sauer

The effect of a winning football team on applications and donations to a university has been extensively studied in the literature. But sometimes there are exceptional circumstances which provide data to complement more elaborate statistical analyses. Rutgers’ recent 10-2 season – a significant departure from past history – and an apparent commitment to continued success may provide one such anecdote.

Here are some pieces of evidence.

Excitement about New Jersey’s 50,000-student university became palpable after the Scarlet Knights’ defeat of then-No. 3-ranked Louisville in November, McAnuff said. His office was flooded with requests for campus visits, prompting him to add 3,600 seats on the fall bus tours, on top of the 5,600 slots already planned. The university’s admissions Web page also experienced a 33 percent jump in visitors over the previous fall semester.

…Applications for admission to Rutgers by first-year and transfer students for the fall 2007 semester increased from 28,983 to 30,429, and hundreds more are still pouring in, McAnuff said. That’s on top of a similar increase last year, when the football team reversed a perennial losing record and went to a bowl game.

…Carol Herring, president of the Rutgers Foundation, said football frenzy likely factored into a 35 percent increase in overall giving to the university compared to the same period as last year.

On the same note, Phil Miller noted the impact of George Mason’s run to the final four last year. I wonder, how many of the 300 to 400 additional freshman admits at GMU want to transfer to Rutgers?

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