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Sports programs with a name: Impact on enrollment

University Business, March 2016
Fans pack the University of Kentucky arena for every basketball game, keeping ticket revenues high. (Photo: UK Athletics)
Fans pack the University of Kentucky arena for every basketball game, keeping ticket revenues high. (Photo: UK Athletics)

As one would expect, successful athletic programs benefit their college or university in a number of ways—particularly in the admissions arena. They raise public awareness of the school, reaching prospective students who may not otherwise have heard of or looked at the university, says Scott Verzyl, associate vice president for enrollment management and dean of undergraduate admissions for the University of South Carolina.

The potential enrollment boosts help justify expenses passed along to nonathletes.

At South Carolina, students are charged an athletics fee of $86.50 each semester. This fee covers free athletic events and provides access to a lottery for ticketed events, says Verzyl. The university is one of only two institutions in the Southeastern Conference that does not double-charge students by then selling them tickets for many lower-profile sports.

Fees rarely impact a student’s enrollment decision, but the opportunity to play on or watch a successful team can, Verzyl says.

“Students are attracted to different colleges and universities for different reasons,” says Verzyl. “And while it isn’t typically the deciding factor, a successful athletic program certainly attracts students.”

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