College athletic programs are an effective way for universities to propel themselves into the national spotlight. It is a free form of advertising and has lasting effects on college at large. College athletics programs can be an integral hook for a university for increasing brand awareness and boosting admissions. With the best email marketing strategies, you can perform database enhancement to gain information about potential student’s athletic prowess. This, in turn, will help your admissions office benefit from the Flutie Effect.
The Flutie Effect
Many universities have encountered surges in their admissions following their success in a collegiate sport. The first occurrence was in 1984 with Boston College. At the time, the Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie threw a Hail Mary to Gerard Phelan causing them beat Miami in a nationally televised football game. The play only took a few sections, yet after this happened college applications to the university surged.
Other colleges have experienced similar surges in admissions due to athletic success. Auburn saw an increase in their admissions following a better than average football season in 2017. Georgetown University saw an increase in applications during 1983 and 1986, corresponding to their dominance in men’s basketball at the time. Northwestern University also saw a spike in their admissions after they won the Big Ten Football Championship.
Why the Flutie Effect Works
The Flutie Effect is not foolproof, but it does showcase the importance of athletics in a high school student’s decision to apply to a university. Clearly, students are persuaded to apply to certain schools depending on the prowess of their athletic programs. The reasons vary, but can be attributed to:
- Collegiate sports build brand recognition
When a university does well in sports, this is an authentic form of advertising. This allows university marketers to still experience a spike in admissions as though they spent a few million dollars on advertising and marketing. Some schools, like Oregon University, have found that timing their admissions initiatives with sports events have led to better quality admitted students and increased diversity at their institutions.
2.Students want to join a sports community
Many students are influenced by nonacademic factors when deciding where they should attend college. They want to have a connection to the school they choose to attend and feel like they relate to the community they are joining. For many, athletics create this connection. In our sports-heavy American culture, athletics can create a sense of belonging between a potential student and a university.
3.Sports appeal to all types of students
Doug Chung performed a study called The Dynamic Advertising Effect on Collegiate Athletics in 2013 at the Harvard Business School. In this study, he found that students with lower-than-average SAT scores preferred attending schools with higher athletic success. He also found that students with higher SAT scores preferred attending schools with higher academic quality. Nevertheless, he also found that high SAT score students were heavily influenced by athletics when deciding where to attend college.
How Universities Can Benefit from The Flutie Effect
The Flutie Effect, although not foolproof, presents an opportunity for colleges. By working with athletic programs to increase the success of their teams, it can have a long-lasting effect on the success of an academic institution. For admissions departments, in particular, it allows them to spend less on marketing and advertising and create an authentic connection with prospective students. Plus, many schools who experience spikes in their admissions from the Flutie Effect would not see the same results unless they lowered their tuition costs and increased the quality of their academic instructors. Needless to say, by creating strong athletic programs, universities have the opportunity to connect with potential students in a meaningful way with minimal spending.
How to Take Advantage of The Flutie Effect to Develop the Best Email Marketing
If you are an admissions marketer and want to piggy back on the Flutie Effect, the first step is to work closely with the athletic department at your school to increase the quality of student athletes. Helping coaches ensure they admit stellar players for football, basketball, baseball, track and field and more can have a meaningful effect on your school’s overall admissions. Then you can target them with the best email marketing strategies.
You can find these players by using the best email marketing strategies and performing database enhancement on your current email lists. These strategies will allow your admissions team to market your university to high performing athletes and build up your collegiate athletic program with quality players. From there, you can market your growing athletics program with other prospective students (non-athletes) to build interest in your school as you develop a sports-oriented culture at your university.