Enrollment and fiscal health of small, tuition-dependent private colleges with new football programs
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The primary focus of this comparative research was to explore the impact of the addition of football programs on the enrollment and fiscal health of 530 small, tuition-dependent private U.S. colleges and universities from 1985 to 2000. The institutions studied represented a group of institutions that are increasingly challenged to manage or improve their enrollments and fiscal health at a time when competitive pressures raise questions as to their long-term viability. In the analysis, institutions were separated into four groups. The first group consisted of 52 institutions that established intercollegiate football programs during that time period. The second group was comprised of six institutions that ended football programs during that time period. The third group involved 172 institutions that had football programs during the entire time span. The fourth group consisted of 300 institutions that had no football program during the entire time span of the study. Data regarding enrollment and fiscal health for all 530 institutions were collected from publicly available sources to account for the 25 years of the study and the analysis was conducted. This study incorporated an interrupted time series design, which allowed for a large series of observations made on the same variable consecutively over time. The results of this study demonstrated that initiating a new football program produces a greater increase in undergraduate enrollment for initiating institutions than for those institutions not initiating a football program. Initiating a football program also produces a greater increase in fiscal health for initiating institutions than for those institutions not initiating a football program. In addition the study confirmed that initiating a football program increases the rate of growth of undergraduate enrollment of initiating institutions compared to those institutions that did not have a football program during the time span of the study. This was not the case for institutions that had a football program during the time span of the study. Finally, starting a football program increases the rate of improvement of the fiscal health of initiating institutions compared to those institutions not initiating a football program.