Monday, March 24, 2008

NCAA Bump...or mole hill?

As tradition dictates this time of year is filled with talk of Spring arriving, Easter eggs and Bracket-ology. As for that later, it usually comes with at least one story on what some call the “Tourney Bump” or the increase of undergraduate admissions to colleges and universities that perform well in the NCAA basketball championships. This usually only applies to the men’s game but can also spread to the women’s side and also has the pull of other major college sports (football, baseball, and hockey).

There have been a lot of numbers bandied about over the years, with different schools that have success (especially “Cinderellas”) and their application rate for the next few years. Well two scientists decided to put these numbers to an actual test. The Associated Press has the article here.

What I’m not clear on is how many of these “new” applicants are 1) qualified to attend these institutions and 2) how many of the “new” applicants are accepted? The way I see it is if I’m a rising high school senior and starting to think about colleges, if a school does well, say wins the NCAA football championship, why should I necessarily consider to apply (unless they were already on my “list”.)? I remember caring what kind of programs the school had, where it was located and for some can I get in-state tuition.

The study and the concept of the “bump” would indicate that students are choosing to apply to certain schools because of their athletic teams’ performance. Why? Are you going to play for that school’s team? Common sense would dictate you would already have your scholarship offer in hand if that were the case.

Following that logic, I question why universities would be so eager to get this new crop of applications? These are clearly students who don’t have a strong academic desire, because they (seemingly) are applying to just because of the prestige of the basketball or football teams.

I’d like to have winning teams and were lucky enough to attend a school with a pretty good basketball program (men’s and women’s) but the fact that they went to the sweet 16 my junior year of high school was not the reason that I applied. My alma matter was in the location I wanted and offered the programs I wanted. End of story. I encourage these schools not to get all that excited about this new batch. Remember why they are applying and really, how many 5ft 6” white, suburban kids can pull down 15 rebounds a game or run the 40 in sub 4 seconds?

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