A study suggests that an increase in winning by a football team has a big downside. It leads to a sharp decrease in academic donations to a university.
The study by Gi-Yong Koo, a doctoral student in sports management at Arkansas, and his professor, Stephen Dittmore, examines the winning percentage of a school's football and basketball teams and compares it to annual athletic and academic giving.
As one would expect, winning teams boost gifts to athletics. In football, every additional 1.5 victories increases athletics donations by $6.7 million. But those 1.5 victories are more than offset by a decrease of $16.4 million in academic gifts.
The results are preliminary and based on data from only 29 of 120 Division I-A schools, but Koo hopes to complete the study of all 120 schools by July.
Dittmore told Jon Solomon of the Birmingham News that it was unclear why more victories by a football team would result in a decline in academic gifts.
"It seems like you have extremes on either end of the circle: those who are passionate for athletics and those for higher education," he said. "Perhaps you have influential donors who are anti-athletics and see that their university is becoming good at athletics and not placing as much emphasis on education, so they may choose to withdraw funds or cut back their giving. That's a speculative point."
The study also found that winning more in basketball has no impact on academic giving.
"This reinforces the notion that football drives everything in athletics," Dittmore said.