Sunday, April 13, 2008

Victory: What’s in it for KU?

Stellar athletic year may boost enrollment, donations

Kansas University head football coach Mark Mangino, left photo, basks in his team's 2008 Orange Bowl victory, and KU basketball coach Bill Self, right photo, revels in his team's 2008 National Championship.

Kansas University head football coach Mark Mangino, left photo, basks in his team's 2008 Orange Bowl victory, and KU basketball coach Bill Self, right photo, revels in his team's 2008 National Championship.



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It's been a banner year for Kansas Athletics: an Orange Bowl victory for the football team and a National Championship for the basketball team.

In addition to promoting good feelings across campus, there's the chance that all of this promotion - something that a value can't easily be affixed to - will provide tangible benefit to the university.

A recent national study showed that the university that wins the basketball National Championship can expect an average 7 percent to 8 percent increase in enrollment. Just finishing in the football Top 20 - KU was ranked seventh in the final Associated Press poll - results in an average enrollment bump of 2.5 percent.

"Certainly, college administrators have known about this for a while, but I think this study helps to pin down what the average effects are," said Jaren Pope, an assistant professor in applied economics at Virginia Tech University, who conducted the study with his brother Devin Pope, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.

The brothers compared information on freshman classes at 330 NCAA Division I schools with how the schools' teams fared from 1983 through 2002.

At KU, enrollment officials aren't so sure they are going to see any major jump because its basketball program has been nationally known for some time, and the championship came after the university's admissions deadline, said Gail Sherron, associate director of admissions and scholarship.

"Students who really truly had a strong interest we believe already had applied," she said. "We may get students from far away who have an interest in what KU has to offer - a strong collegiate environment, good athletics, good academics - who may think 'You know, this is a great choice.'"

The football team's strong finish did come before the admissions deadline, but Sherron said it didn't really lead to a spike in applications, but the university is meeting expectations.

What can't be determined, though, is how the victories on the field and the court will play out next year - and in August and September when KU's admissions counselors are at high schools around the country.

Good for giving

Of course, it's not just admissions that hopes to benefit from the Jayhawks' athletic success. The Alumni Association has included the basketball team in its advertising, even mentioning the victory in advertising on the popular Facebook social networking site.

The Endowment Association last week sent an e-mail from Robert Hemenway to the e-mail addresses of a number of alumni, encouraging them to make a donation to the university in honor of the team. Dale Seuferling, Endowment Association president, said the team would be involved in determining how that money is spent.

"We had inquiries from people asking what (they) can do, how they can honor the team," he said. "We decided to create a fund that bears the team's name."

Seuferling compared the idea of letting the team help decide how the money will be spent - it is expected to benefit students in some way - to similar campaigns that have been done in honor of recently retired faculty or university leaders.

"We'll give (the team) some ideas," he said.

Seuferling said he hoped that the victories would lead to a good year for the endowment association.

"Anything that's positive in the life of the university impacts giving," he said. "It's positive to have that much media attention. If you have an association with the university, you know about this team."

And that, everyone hopes, will lead to a bump for the university in all aspects of its operations.

- The Associated Press contributed to this report.


actorman 13 years ago

A basketball team is a ridiculous reason to pick a school (speaking as someone who grew up a KU basketball fan and chose KU largely because of its basketball team).

nicka 13 years ago

I'm guilty of going to KU because of the basketball team also. Anyone else out there want to admit it?

Jonathan Andrews 13 years ago

When it came down to state schools, my choice was pretty easy.

jimmyspeachbaskets 13 years ago

If it came down to two schools and one had a dominant athletic program compared to the other, I can see that that influincing your decision. I mean, who wants to forever follow a crappy school as an alum?

KU1979 13 years ago

There's going to be a lot fewer high school seniors in Kansas wearing purple this year.

ku_foaf 13 years ago

Couldn't afford out of state, so there was really only one choice ;>)

melrank 13 years ago

Hmmm - let's see. It's been awhile since I applied my Advanced Algebra skills or had to explain why I think Voltaire was one of the most influential persons of the 1700's, but . . .Damn, I enjoyed being a KU alum on Monday night :)

speedy 13 years ago

I chose KU for its art program. its track and field and sports too. i can run fast and shetch as i go. lol

Ryan Gerstner 13 years ago

KU's basketball team is what got me interested in KU as a kid. Football too. I wouldn't have been a Jayhawk otherwise.

JayhawkVA 13 years ago

I actually chose to go out of state and always regretted not being able to be a part of the student section at Kansas. While I don't regret where I am now, if I had to do it over again, I would definitely go to KU.

Steve Gantz 13 years ago

Even though I was a big hoops fan from the Chicago area, I really had no clue that KU was a big basketball school. I came there in '86 and of course very quickly found out about KU basketball. I've been hooked ever since. How 'bout a repeat next year!

Lance Hobson 13 years ago

Anyone have a link to Bob Davis' call on Mario's shot.

sevenyearhawk 13 years ago

I chose Kansas because of the music program ...Like someone else said: when you look at the in-state alternatives, the choice is EASY!!Hell, I enjoyed it so much - I stayed put for SEVEN years! :D

FlaHawk 13 years ago

I was hooked on KU due to Bill Easton and those fabulous Track teams in the 50s and early 60s. KU ruled the roost before the West Coast schools took over and foreign athletes were imported!lPeople don;t remember that it was Track and Bill Easton who made KU the first KU dominate team in any NCAA sport!Phog Allen and basketball made the NCAAs maybe every 3 years! Bill teams were top five every year!

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