A strike against those arguing for the benefits of successful college football programs, college male's grades tend to go down when their university's football team wins games, new research finds. And it happens as a direct result of the boozy culture surrounding football programs. More victories means more celebratingw which means less studying. As big college sports programs face scrutiny for all the money thrown at them in light of other university budget cuts, the research doesn't bolster the argument that winning university sports programs enhance the academic side of the collegiate experience.
Looking at University of Oregon student transcripts over 8 year and football wins over that same period, researchers Jason M. Lindo, Isaac D. Swensen, Glen R. Waddell calculated that a 25 percent increase in the football team's winning percentage leads males to earn GPAs as if their SAT scores were 27 points lower. Yet, the researchers admit this does not take into account grade inflation over the years. But, as you can see in this chart below, as team wins go-up, male GPA suffers.
In addition to looking at grades, the researchers also collected surveys, asking students if football success decreases study time. "24 percent of males report that athletic success either 'Definitely' or 'Probably' decreases their study time, compared to only 9 percent of females," write Lindo, Swensen and Waddell, leading them to attribute the grade drop to partying.
The findings come out of a working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research.
The money that goes into college sports program is a sore subject in university budget talks in states struggling to close deficits. In California, UC Berkeley students have organized, protesting the massive cuts and tuition hikes. Yet, the university continues to pour money into football such as paying out $321 million* for a stadium upgrade. Cal has cut down on its athletic budget after faculty outcry, but this research gives these anti-sports proponents more ammo as they fight for funds.
The research confirms what we've seen at schools with big football programs: Football determines the culture. Take Penn State, for example. A recently rehashed This American Life demonstrated took us through a typical weekend at State College. After partying all Friday night, students wake up at 6 in the morning for drunken tailgating all day the next day. Of course student grades suffer -- the entire weekend's brain neurons are devoted to football related drinking and hangovers.
This post originally stated that Cal paid $225,000 for a stadium upgrade.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.