Strengthening higher education through gridiron success? Public perceptions of the impact of national football championships on academic quality Academic Article uri icon


  • Objectives. This article examines the extent to which the public connects athletic success with academic quality, whether these connections are stronger during a year in which a state university wins a national championship, the type of respondents most likely to make such connections, and whether these connections make a difference in terms of public evaluations and support for higher education. Embedded within the 2004 survey instrument, we also consider whether respondents primed with specific question wording identifying the national championship are more likely to make the connection than respondents given more generic language referring to success in college athletics.Methods. Data for the study are based on two statewide, randomly selected samples of Louisiana votingage residents, with the first survey conducted in February 2004 in the wake of LSU's BCS National Championship and the second survey conducted in January 2005 in the wake of a 93 season.Results. We find that a substantial proportion of the population believes that athletic success and academic quality are connected, that lesseducated respondents are more likely to make such connections, and that these connections affect evaluations of colleges and universities.Conclusions. Athletic success may or may not directly affect academic quality, but the public largely believes such a link exists and those beliefs have important implications for higher education.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Goidel, R. K., & Hamilton, J. M.

citation count

  • 12

complete list of authors

  • Goidel, Robert Kirby||Hamilton, John Maxwell

publication date

  • December 2006