PS. Is Athletics Really the Glue Holding Alums to a School?

Just looking at the comments on that Daily Camera piece and a lot of folks contend that the athletic program, the football program in particular, is what bonds alums to their school.  And just what is the empirical evidence for this?  The size of the endowment, where grateful alums give money back to their old alma mater?

Take a good look at the list compiled at one site (pretty much the same as many others).  Of the top 10, how many have ever won a football championship in Division I? How many are even in Division I? Yes, there is Texas and Michigan and Stanford…but there is MIT and Harvard and Yale and Columbia.  And if you look at endowment per student, the only national athletic power in the top 10 is Stanford. (How much of Texas’s endowment is from athletic success and how much is from oil, anyways? Stanford was originally funded by one of the chief owners of the Southern Pacific; how much of their dough is still from that enormous gift?).

Maybe alums who attend football games get the warm fuzzies a lot more than folks who went to a place where there was no such tradition (hey, GG went to Caltech back when they played in the Rose Bowl…look it up, but the place, not the New Years Day Game–and Caltech’s endowment is well ahead of CU’s despite being a younger school), but it doesn’t show up strongly in the dollars and cents. Arguably the value of college sports for a public university is to offset the perception of the university’s inappropriate political slant among many who never attended the school.


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