What will the Rose Bowl win cost academics?

1/4/2012: One way to build a better university would be to invest in academics – as Richard Lariviere’s New Partnership proposed. Or there’s Dave Frohnmayer’s trickle down theory – sell out to the jocks and pretend. From the RG editorial a few days ago:

Former UO President Dave Frohnmayer has no doubts about the spillover effects of a successful football season: After the Ducks made their first modern Rose Bowl appearance in 1995, he saw a surge in donor support for both athletic and academic programs at the university. A successful season promotes awareness of the UO, and triggers a natural desire to be associated with a winner.

As it happens, UO Professor Dennis Howard – holder of a Nike Philip H. Knight Chair in Sports Marketing at UO and former Business School Dean – has written a paper on exactly this topic, comparing data on donations to UO sports and to UO academics, for exactly the years Frohnmayer is talking about – 1994 to 2002. Howard’s conclusion is a little different from Frohnmayer’s:

Both alumni and non-alumni show an increasing preference toward directing their gifts to the intercollegiate athletics department-at the expense of the donations to academic programs. Sperber’s (2000) assertion that giving to athletics undermines academic giving is strongly supported.

and

For every $100 of new revenue raised from major donors by the University of Oregon, over 80% is being directed to the athletic department. Even with the large increases in numbers of total donors since 1994, academic giving struggles to remain stable while donations to athletics experience huge growth. In three out of the past five years (1998, 2000, 2001), the total dollars donated to academics by non-alumni has fallen despite annual increases in the number of non-alumni donors. Total dollars donated to academics by alumni fell in only one year (2000), again despite an increase in the total number of donors. This suggests new donors are not making academic gifts, and current donors are shifting dollars from academic giving to donations directed to the athletic program. Additionally, as discussed above, proportional giving by alumni is predominantly directed to the athletic program. If these trends continue, total academic giving will fall for both alumni and non-alumni despite continued increases in the total numbers of both types of donors.

Stefan Verbano of the ODE had a story on Prof Dennis Howard last February:

“It’s called a donation or a contribution … when, in fact, as we have discovered in our research … it’s a transaction,” Howard said. “It has nothing to do with giving back to the University or a philanthropic motive. It is purely and simply a commercial transaction in which the individual in paying for tangible benefits: better seat location, access to the Autzen Club amenities. All of those things are driving those transactions.” 

Or just look at the picture. (Data source here.) And it gets worse: the UO Foundation has just announced a $1.4 million cut in the amount it provides for academic scholarships. Go Ducks!

Dave Williford’s statistical critique of UO economists in the NY Times

12/22/2011: Now it’s in Time too:

Oregon parents, beware: the Ducks are 11-2 this season, and playing in the Jan. 2 Rose Bowl against the University of Wisconsin, the sixth-best party school in the nation according to Playboy (in 2010, the Badgers ranked third). For transcripts, this game might be an F-ing disaster. “Our results support the concern that big-time sports are a threat to American higher education,” the researchers  — Jason M. Lindo, Isaac D. Swensen and Glen R. Waddell wrote.

12/21/2011: Getting your research talked about in the NY Times is a good thing for professors. Part of our job is to do research that interests people. Great publicity for UO’s academic side. The NYT matters in a way that a 60 second $500,000 athletic department puff piece never will. Only a few UO research papers get featured each year. Here’s the latest, from three UO economists:

In examining the grade-point averages of the Oregon student body and the performance of the Ducks’ football team, the researchers found a relationship between declining grades and success on the field.

“Our results support the concern that big-time sports are a threat to American higher education,” the paper’s authors — Jason M. Lindo, Isaac D. Swensen and Glen R. Waddell — wrote. They said their work was among the first to take a look at the “nonmonetary costs” of college sports.

Male students were more likely than females to increase their alcohol consumption and celebrating and decrease studying when a team fared well, resulting in lower grade-point averages, according to the study….

Some 24 percent of male students said that the success of Oregon’s football team definitely or probably decreased the amount of time they spent studying for classes, compared with 9 percent for women. Both men and women reported that they were more likely to consume alcohol, skip class or party in the wake of a win compared with a loss.

Relative to females, “we observe a decrease in male academic time investment and an increase in distracting or risky behaviors in response to increased athletic success,” the researchers wrote.

Anyone who has ever been to a university – or just to a football game – knows this is true. But here’s the response from official Duck spokesperson and Executive Assistant Athletics Director Dave Williford, who presumably has spent a fair amount of time tailgating, if not studying, and who therefore really should get it:

David Williford, a University of Oregon spokesman, said about the study: “I would like to try and understand the factors involved to coming to that conclusion. Statistics can prove anything. But that’s my personal opinion and not necessarily the university’s.”

Followed by “Wait, will you please not print that?” Too bad they couldn’t get our NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative Jim O’Fallon to comment too. I’m guessing AD Rob Mullens hid under his desk as soon as he heard what the reporter wanted to ask him about. Williford – the $85K a year spokesperson and the low guy on the totem pole, got stuck taking the call.

We blogged about this earlier, with links to another paper showing links to football upsets and increases in spouse abuse. The OC – back on the job now that the game parties are over – discusses the former. But there’s more:

Rees and Scnepel (2009) on crime, http://jse.sagepub.com/content/10/1/68.short:

Our results suggest that the host community registers sharp increases in assaults, vandalism, arrests for disorderly conduct, and arrests for alcohol-related offenses on game
days. Upsets are associated with the largest increases in the number of expected offenses.

and Card and Dahl (2011) on family violence, which finds

Controlling for the pregame point spread and the size of the local viewing audience, we find that upset losses (defeats when the home team was predicted to win by four or more points) lead to a 10% increase in the rate of at-home violence by men against their wives
and girlfriends. … The rise in violence after an upset loss is concentrated in a narrow time window near the end of the game and is larger for more important games.

Of course on the pecuniary side we’ve got Stinson and Howard (2004) http://business.nmsu.edu/%7Emhyman/M454_Articles/%28Collegiate%29%20Stinson_SMQ_2004.pdf showing another effect of big-time sports programs:

Both alumni and non-alumni show an increasing preference toward directing their gifts to the intercollegiate athletics department-at the expense of the donations to academic programs. Sperber’s (2000) assertion that giving to athletics undermines academic giving is strongly supported.

And the official NCAA reports on this http://www.ncaa.org/wps/wcm/connect/97483e804e0dabfa9f32ff1ad6fc8b25/empirical_effects_of_collegiate_athletics_update.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=97483e804e0dabfa9f32ff1ad6fc8b25

Hypothesis #8: Increased operating expenditures on sports affect measurable academic quality in the medium term.

• Our statistical analysis of the updated data suggests no relationship – either positive or negative – between changes in operating expenditures on football or basketball among Division I-A schools and incoming SAT scores or the percentage of applicants accepted.
• The academic literature is divided on whether athletic programs affect academic quality. While our results suggest no statistical relationship one way or the other, our data are limited to ten years and such a relationship may exist over longer periods of time. In addition, the relationship between athletics and academic quality may manifest itself in ways other than the effect on SAT scores or other directly measurable indicators.
•  We continue to conclude that the hypothesis that changes in operating expenditures on big-time sports affect measurable academic quality in the medium term is not proven.

Hypothesis #9: Increased operating expenditures on sports affect other measurable indicators, including alumni giving.

• Econometric analysis using our updated database shows little or no robust relationship between changes in operating expenditures on football or basketball among Division I-A schools and alumni giving (either to the sports program or the university itself).
• The academic literature is again inconclusive on this issue. As with the previous hypothesis, our results suggest little or no statistical relationship – but our data are limited to ten years and such a relationship may exist over longer periods of time.
• We continue to conclude that the hypothesis that increased operating expenditures on sports affect other measurable indicators, including alumni giving, is not proven.

On the other side of the argument, of course, there’s Duck spokesperson Dave Williford, and this $500,000 video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_csyVJEzMFw&feature=player_embedded

Comments here.

Update: Dave Williford writes a nice apology – though it should come from his boss. But Rob Mullens still won’t meet with the IAC, Jim O’Fallon still won’t explain why the IAC can’t have a voice in who will pay for the NCAA settlement, Randy Geller still won’t stop redacting the Glazier invoices, and Jamie Moffitt still won’t come clean about the Kilkenny baseball loan, etc.

From: “Dave Williford”
Subject: Response from David Williford, Athletics Department, University of Oregon
Date: December 22, 2011 2:56:13 PM PST

I would like to apologize for the insensitivity of my comments to the
New York Times. I wish to assure you that I hold the academic mission of
this University to be of the highest priority and certainly did not
intend to create any perception that resulted in a compromise of the
integrity of that academic mission.

Dave Williford
Asst. AD, Media Services
Athletics Department
University of Oregon@uoregon.edu>

 

As Ducks win, male grades drop. (and when teams lose, more domestic violence.)

12/20/2011: That’s the ESPN headline for this paper from 3 UO economists, using data from UO students: The gist:

Are Big-Time Sports a Threat to Student Achievement?∗

Jason M. Lindo Isaac D. Swensen Glen R. Waddell

American Economic Journal: Applied Economics

Abstract: We consider the relationship between collegiate-football success and non-athlete student performance. We find that the team’s success significantly reduces male grades relative to female grades, and only in fall quarters, which coincides with the football season. Using survey data, we find that males are more likely than females to increase alcohol consumption, decrease studying, and increase partying in response to the success of the team. Yet, females also report that their behavior is affected by athletic success, suggesting that their performance is likely impaired but that this effect is masked by the practice of grade curving.

The main effect:

Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 1.25.16 PM

You’ll never guess why:

Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 1.27.28 PM

108 news stories last time I looked, and UO is still trying to figure out how to word the press release. (Update: it’s here.) Atlantic magazine summary and discussion here.

ASUO President Eckstein’s take:

The findings didn’t really surprise Oregon student government president Ben Eckstein.
“It’s consistent with the culture on campus and the culture at this university where a stronger emphasis is put on athletic success than on academic success,” Eckstein said. Though a fan himself, he says the university’s financial and building priorities favor sports facilities over academics, and “there’s a lack of focus on connecting our athletic success to our academic mission” which trickles down to students.

UO’s official vacuous non-reply, from acting provost Lorraine Davis:

“Academic success has been and remains the top priority at the University of Oregon,” she said. “I am proud of the academic strengths of the institution. Our athletic programs enhance experiences for our students, faculty, alumni and the greater community.

The story doesn’t mention that Lorraine’s most recent previous job was as acting Athletic Director, and that she still sits on the committee that gives special admits to the football players that don’t meet UO’s academic standards.

12/21/2011: Getting your research talked about in the NY Times is a good thing for professors. Part of our job is to do research that interests people. Great publicity for UO’s academic side. The NYT matters in a way that a 60 second $500,000 athletic department puff piece never will. Only a few UO research papers get featured each year. Here’s the NYTimes’ take on the latest, from three UO economists:

In examining the grade-point averages of the Oregon student body and the performance of the Ducks’ football team, the researchers found a relationship between declining grades and success on the field.

“Our results support the concern that big-time sports are a threat to American higher education,” the paper’s authors — Jason M. Lindo, Isaac D. Swensen and Glen R. Waddell — wrote. They said their work was among the first to take a look at the “nonmonetary costs” of college sports.

Male students were more likely than females to increase their alcohol consumption and celebrating and decrease studying when a team fared well, resulting in lower grade-point averages, according to the study….

Some 24 percent of male students said that the success of Oregon’s football team definitely or probably decreased the amount of time they spent studying for classes, compared with 9 percent for women. Both men and women reported that they were more likely to consume alcohol, skip class or party in the wake of a win compared with a loss.

Relative to females, “we observe a decrease in male academic time investment and an increase in distracting or risky behaviors in response to increased athletic success,” the researchers wrote.

Anyone who has ever been to a university – or just to a football game – knows this is true. But here’s the response from official Duck spokesperson and Executive Assistant Athletics Director Dave Williford, who presumably has spent a fair amount of time tailgating, if not studying, and who therefore really should get it:

David Williford, a University of Oregon spokesman, said about the study: “I would like to try and understand the factors involved to coming to that conclusion. Statistics can prove anything. But that’s my personal opinion and not necessarily the university’s.”

Followed by “Wait, will you please not print that?” Too bad they couldn’t get our NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative Jim O’Fallon to comment too. I’m guessing AD Rob Mullens hid under his desk as soon as he heard what the reporter wanted to ask him about. Williford – the $85K a year spokesperson and the low guy on the totem pole, got stuck taking the call.

12/22/2011: Now it’s in Time too:

Oregon parents, beware: the Ducks are 11-2 this season, and playing in the Jan. 2 Rose Bowl against the University of Wisconsin, the sixth-best party school in the nation according to Playboy (in 2010, the Badgers ranked third). For transcripts, this game might be an F-ing disaster. “Our results support the concern that big-time sports are a threat to American higher education,” the researchers  — Jason M. Lindo, Isaac D. Swensen and Glen R. Waddell wrote.

The Oregon Commentator – back on the job now that the game parties are over – chimes in too. But there’s more. Two other recent papers have used higher frequency data to tie football *losses* to domestic violence:

College Football Games and Crime,
Daniel I. Rees and Kevin T. Schnepel.
Journal of Sports Economics, 2009
http://jse.sagepub.com/content/10/1/68.short

Abstract: There is a great deal of anecdotal evidence that college
football games can lead to aggressive and destructive behavior by
fans. However, to date, no empirical study has attempted to document
the magnitude of this phenomenon. We match daily data on offenses from
the National Incident-Based Reporting System to 26 Division I-A
college football programs to estimate the relationship between college
football games and crime. Our results suggest that the host community
registers sharp increases in assaults, vandalism, arrests for
disorderly conduct, and arrests for alcohol-related offenses on game
days. Upsets are associated with the largest increases in the number
of expected offenses.

and

http://qje.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2011/03/21/qje.qjr001

FAMILY VIOLENCE AND FOOTBALL:
THE EFFECT OF UNEXPECTED EMOTIONAL CUES
ON VIOLENT BEHAVIOR

DAVID CARD AND GORDON B. DAHL

We study the link between family violence and the emotional cues associated
with wins and losses by professional football teams. We hypothesize that the risk
of violence is affected by the “gain-loss” utility of game outcomes around a ratio-
nally expected reference point. Our empirical analysis uses police reports of violent
incidents on Sundays during the professional football season. Controlling for the
pregame point spread and the size of the local viewing audience, we find that upset
losses (defeats when the home team was predicted to win by four or more points)
lead to a 10% increase in the rate of at-home violence by men against their wives
and girlfriends. In contrast, losses when the game was expected to be close have
small and insignificant effects. Upset wins (victories when the home team was
predicted to lose) also have little impact on violence, consistent with asymmetry
in the gain-loss utility function. The rise in violence after an upset loss is concen-
trated in a narrow time window near the end of the game and is larger for more
important games. We find no evidence for reference point updating based on the
halftime score.JELCodes: D030, J120.

Of course on the pecuniary side we’ve got Stinson and Howard (2004)http://business.nmsu.edu/%7Emhyman/M454_Articles/%28Collegiate%29%20Stinson_SMQ_2004.pdf showing another effect of big-time sports programs:

Both alumni and non-alumni show an increasing preference toward directing their gifts to the intercollegiate athletics department-at the expense of the donations to academic programs. Sperber’s (2000) assertion that giving to athletics undermines academic giving is strongly supported.

And the official NCAA reports on related issues are at http://www.ncaa.org/wps/wcm/connect/97483e804e0dabfa9f32ff1ad6fc8b25/empirical_effects_of_collegiate_athletics_update.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=97483e804e0dabfa9f32ff1ad6fc8b25

Hypothesis #8: Increased operating expenditures on sports affect measurable academic quality in the medium term.

• Our statistical analysis of the updated data suggests no relationship – either positive or negative – between changes in operating expenditures on football or basketball among Division I-A schools and incoming SAT scores or the percentage of applicants accepted.
• The academic literature is divided on whether athletic programs affect academic quality. While our results suggest no statistical relationship one way or the other, our data are limited to ten years and such a relationship may exist over longer periods of time. In addition, the relationship between athletics and academic quality may manifest itself in ways other than the effect on SAT scores or other directly measurable indicators.
•  We continue to conclude that the hypothesis that changes in operating expenditures on big-time sports affect measurable academic quality in the medium term is not proven.

Hypothesis #9: Increased operating expenditures on sports affect other measurable indicators, including alumni giving.

• Econometric analysis using our updated database shows little or no robust relationship between changes in operating expenditures on football or basketball among Division I-A schools and alumni giving (either to the sports program or the university itself).
• The academic literature is again inconclusive on this issue. As with the previous hypothesis, our results suggest little or no statistical relationship – but our data are limited to ten years and such a relationship may exist over longer periods of time.
• We continue to conclude that the hypothesis that increased operating expenditures on sports affect other measurable indicators, including alumni giving, is not proven.

On the other side of the argument, of course, there’s Duck spokesperson Dave Williford, and this $500,000 video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_csyVJEzMFw&feature=player_embedded

Update: Dave Williford writes a nice apology – though it should come from his boss. But Rob Mullens still won’t meet with the IAC, Jim O’Fallon still won’t explain why the IAC can’t have a voice in who will pay for the NCAA settlement, Randy Geller still won’t stop redacting the Glazier invoices, and Jamie Moffitt still won’t come clean about the Kilkenny baseball loan, etc.

From: “Dave Williford”
Subject: Response from David Williford, Athletics Department, University of Oregon
Date: December 22, 2011 2:56:13 PM PST

I would like to apologize for the insensitivity of my comments to the
New York Times. I wish to assure you that I hold the academic mission of
this University to be of the highest priority and certainly did not
intend to create any perception that resulted in a compromise of the
integrity of that academic mission.

Dave Williford
Asst. AD, Media Services
Athletics Department
University of Oregon@uoregon.edu>

toil over projects that have little consequence

11/21/2011: From a Kevin Kiley story in IHE, based on a paper released Friday by the Emory University English professor Mark Bauerlein:

“Many professors enjoy their work, finding it rewarding and helpful to their other professional duties, but if their books and essays do not find readers sufficient to justify the effort, the publication mandate falls short of its rationale, namely, to promote scholarly communication and the advancement of knowledge,” Bauerlein wrote in the report. “To put it bluntly, universities ask English professors to labor upon projects of little value to others, incurring significant opportunity costs.”…

The problem is that most of the research is not advancing scholarly communication, because most works are not cited enough to justify the amount of time and money that goes into producing them. 

Paper citations fell into patterns. Most papers received only a handful of citations. Of the 17 articles published by the University of Illinois English department, 11 garnered between zero and two citations and four garnered between three and six citations. Two received more than 20 citations. Books followed a similar pattern.

University 0-2 Citations 3-6 Citations >6 Citations
University of Georgia 16 4 3
SUNY-Buffalo 11 0 2
University of Vermont 11 3 2
University of Illinois 11 4 2

Bauerlein puts the blame on institutions for crafting positions that emphasize research that, in the end, is not being read. “There is a glaring mismatch between the resources these universities and faculty members invest and the impact of most published scholarship,” he wrote. “Despite scant attention paid to scholarship, a faculty member’s promotion and annual review depends heavily on the professor’s published work. A university’s resources and human capital is thereby squandered as highly trained and intelligent professionals to toil over projects that have little consequence.”

A sportswriter friend once compared our jobs: “I spend 30 minutes writing an article 30,000 people will read. You professors spend 5 years writing an article 25 people will read.”

Student money pays for athletic fundraising

11/16/2011: The UO students are starting to ask some serious questions about athletic department finances. For example, why does the athletic department get $375,000 from the academic side for the “President’s Box” at Autzen?

(Update: I’ve revised this post after UO spokesperson Phil Weiler told KEZI the Autzen money comes from the UO Foundation pot, not from tuition. So it’s technically possible some donor said “use my gift to pay for the skybox and not for scholarships, etc.” but it’s much more likely this is general gift money, which the president’s office then funnels to athletics. We’ve asked to see the the gift letter.)

(Second update: it turns out Phil Weiler was not telling the truth. All the $375,000 comes directly from the academic side, not from the Foundation. Weiler has seen the documents, he has acknowledged to me that he was wrong, but he has refused to correct his statement to the reporter.)

The real reason is simple. Athletics gets that money because Dave Frohnmayer put his signature to this secret deal, two weeks before he stepped down as UO President, after AD Pat Kilkenny had contributed some serious money to Frohnmayer’s Fanconi Foundation.

But I’ll go out on a limb and guess our latest AD, Rob Mullens, is going to put a slightly different spin on this. Soon he will be claiming those ungrateful students should be glad athletics gets this money, because the boosters in the box with Lariviere are big donors to the academic side.

That’s a nice story – but it’s not what the data show. Last winter Stefan Verbano of the ODE had a great interview with former UO Business School Dean and current Warsaw Sports Marketing Prof Dennis Howard on the link between athletic contributions and the real University of Oregon:

“It’s called a donation or a contribution … when, in fact, as we have discovered in our research … it’s a transaction,” Howard said. “It has nothing to do with giving back to the University or a philanthropic motive. It is purely and simply a commercial transaction in which the individual in paying for tangible benefits: better seat location, access to the Autzen Club amenities. All of those things are driving those transactions.” 

As you can see from the photo, Howard is not exactly your anti-establishment, bearded longhair professor type. But his paper, which uses data from UO donors, is brutal:

“Both alumni and non-alumni show an increasing preference toward directing their gifts to the intercollegiate athletics department-at the expense of the donations to academic programs. Sperber’s (2000) assertion that giving to athletics undermines academic giving is strongly supported.”

And here’s an update of the UO data on giving to the academic and athletic sides, showing that most of the growth in giving to UO over the past 11 years has indeed been to the athletic side – and this excludes most if not all of the Knight donations, which have all been to athletics since the WRC fiasco.


And the UO Foundation has just announced a $1.4 million cut in the amount it provides for academic scholarships – while payments for athletics scholarships are up yet again.

Academic side pays Jock Box electricity bill

11/3/2011: I’m not exactly shocked to learn that the Jaqua Center glass box burns through electricity like a Norwegian Casino. But it is rather surprising to discover that the academic side of UO – meaning tuition money, mostly – pays the electric bill. The athletic department sticks us with a bunch of other maintenance costs as well, totaling about $160,000 a year:

Sure, we’ll take out your trash, Mr. Mullens. And, of course, as we learned from the Register Guard earlier this year, general fund money also pays for the athlete only tutoring operation itelf – about $1.8 million, last time I looked. Let’s round it to a $2 million subsidy. Here is a summary of the previous stories:

5/8/2011: Greg Bolt has dual front page stories on the UO administration’s complicity in subsidizing UO athletics with state tax revenue and regular student tuition, in today’s Register Guard. The first compares the dismal support services for regular students with what the athletes get at what the NY Times calls UO’s “Jock Box”:

The agreement requires the UO to run the Jaqua Center “at the leading edge of academic excellence” by substantially increasing staff and services. The cost of providing those services comes from the UO’s academic budget, not from the athletic department. It comes to almost $2 million a year, which works out to about $4,000 per student-athlete. … (vs. about $225 a year for regular students.)

Bolt’s second story points out it’s the regular students who pay for the athletes-only Jock Box extravaganza:

At the University of Oregon, the cost is borne by the UO’s overall academic budget. It’s not part of the athletics department’s budget.

The weird part is that, given how his gift letter reads, I think Phil Knight expected the athletic department would pay for this – but then they realized they could trick our Provost, and keep the money for their own salaries. So get that dumb jock stereotype out of your head. We are the fools here.

Stereotype threat

11/3/2011: I’m no psychology professor but Claude Steele is, and he has done some fascinating work on “stereotype threat”. The classic experiment is to tell women everyone knows women are bad at math, just before they take a math quiz. They do worse. It works in reverse too. Or so I’m told. He’s speaking today on campus, courtesy of CODAC:

The Center on Diversity and Community is turning 10 and it¹s time to celebrate! To mark the occasion we have  organized a series of special events and talks throughout the academic year,  all guided by the theme of “Unscripting Diversity: Celebrating 10 years of  Engaging Challenge, Building Community.” Our inaugural event takes place on Thursday November 3 at 4:00pm (EMU Ballroom) with a  keynote address by esteemed social psychologist, Dr. Claude Steele, author of  the book, ‘Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do.’