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The Power of the Flutie Effect

Everyone wants to be a part of something big and witness something amazing. Eveyone wants to say, “I was there.”. Now imagine being at the 1984 Boston College vs. University of Miami football game.

There is six seconds left in the game and Boston College is down 41-45. Boston College quarterback, Doug Flutie has the ball in his hand. He’s shuffling his feet, getting past Hurricane defenders.

With one second left, he launches the ball for a Hail Mary. The crowd goes silent in anticipation, and then the ball is caught by Gerard Phelan in the endzone. Everyone jumps up, they start to cheer, hug each other, and cannot believe what they have just witnessed. Boston College has won the game 47-45.

As a result of the “hail Flutie” college applications went up by 30 percent in the nexttwo years. Douglas J. Chung, Assistant Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, calls it the “Flutie Effect.” The Flutie Effect is basically when athletic success helps in increasing college applications.

“I saw this game live on TV with my father when I was growing up in Kansas and have been a big fan ever since,” stated Chung. This is what drove Chung to begin the research on The Flutie Effect.

According to an article by Sean Silverthorne of the Business Insider. Georgetown University applications increased by 45 percent between 1983 and 1986 following a surge of basketball success which included a national championship in 1984. Northwestern University applications advanced 21 percent after winning the Big Ten Championship in football the last one being won in 2000.

“I definitely think that athletic success has a big effect on application boosts. If sports teams are a high success, for example (Louisiana State) LSU then more athletic students will come in and I can see if more academic students also come in. Those two go hand in hand. With school that don’t have any athletic programs you don’t hear many students saying that they want to apply there. In fact the reason why I like USC is because of Reggie Bush.” said Dejon Glasco, a nursing Major on the Clarkston campus.

In Chung’s research paper “The Dynamic Effect of Collegiate Athletics,” he finds that when a team becomes better on the court or field applications increase by 18.7 percent. A school would have to decrease tuition by 3.8 percent or increase the quality of their education by recruiting faculty who are paid five percent more in the academic labor market to attain the same outcome as thriving athletic schools. With athletic success schools become pickier with the students they accept.

Not only do they have an increase in applications, according to Chung, schools build sports programs so that they can gain more money. Sporting events generate an estimated $2 billion in revenue and $1 billion in profit in 2010.  Chung thinks that the more famous a school, the more people will have interest in it. Students will want to be a part of winning programs. Silverthorne calls it brand advertising.

Mariama Bah, a biology major in Clarkston said,” Yeah, I believe in the Flutie Effect. I feel that students go to certain school because of their history and accomplishments. When a student chooses to go to school it’s because of either their academics or the sports, which ties in, because with great sport teams comes great academic students. I feel like it’s advertising for the school. It gives them more attention, which brings in more students.”

About Hassanatou Bah

Staff Writer

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