[Vision2020] More on Athletics: The “Flutie Effect” at Boston College, Gonzaga, and Boise State

Nicholas Gier ngier006 at gmail.com
Fri Apr 14 15:22:14 PDT 2017

Dear Visionaries:

I thank Tom for posting my Daily News column on UI athletics and the
request for an additional $4 million.  The editor failed to make a
correction: The UI Faculty Senate did hear from the Financial V-P on
Tuesday, but, even after some hard questioning, it took no action.

The long version will appear in the Pocatello paper this Sunday and here
are three sections of possible interest to you:

*The “Flutie Effect” at Boston College, Gonzaga, and Boise State*

Some would point to the great success attained at Gonzaga University. Since
the Bulldog basketball team started winning in 1999, Gonzaga has registered
86.4 percent more students, its endowment has increased 218 percent, and a
doubling of donors has increased giving from $13.4 to $31.1 million.  Boise
State’s alumni giving increased four-fold from 2006 to 2011 during a period
of great football achievement.

Gonzaga’s basketball success was sustained achievement, while the Vandals’
three bowl wins did not balance out losing records (some lopsided) in other
years. Furthermore, UI student enrollment did not increase appreciably and
in one year it actually dropped.

Gonzaga has experienced the “Flutie Effect,” named after quarterback Doug
Flutie who carried Boston College to national fame in 1984.  These are rare
exceptions rather than the rule, and once the teams stop winning, the
donations and student enrollment generally drop off.
*The quality of academic programs—not athletic success—is still the key to
higher education excellence. *

Boston College’s application rate did go up 16 percent and 12 percent two
years after their upset win over the University of Miami, but they also
went up 17 percent after a 4-7 season and up 9 percent after their worst
season ever (0-11). After of a year of embarrassing athletic scandals,
application rates remained the same as the previous year.

*Boise State Has Low Freshman Retention and Graduation Rate*

In 2010, after beating Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl in 2007 and winning it
again in 2010, Boise State’s freshman class enrollment peaked at 2,400—16.5
percent over the low of 2,104 in 2003. It has now returned to 2001 levels,
even though BSU won yet another Fiesta Bowl in 2014.

This temporary success is mitigated by the fact that BSU’s freshman
retention rate is only 69 percent as opposed to 93 percent at Boston
College.  BSU’s graduation rate of 29 percent is also one of the lowest in
the nation. BSU administrators boast about record numbers of applications,
but what counts is not only new freshman enrolled but those who go on and

With a high number of applications, BSU has the pick of the best students
for their freshman classes. Even so, average ATC and SAT scores for these
students are only somewhat higher than before. Economist Craig Depken
states: “I can talk about how the incoming freshman class has a higher SAT
score, at the same time, in many places it’s been documented that a
successful football program tends to correlate with lower GPAs, that is
lower performance in the classroom, especially amongst male students.”

*Faculty Salaries Rarely Correlate with Athletic Success*

Faculty salaries at Gonzaga increased dramatically, but UI and BSU
professors are still 20-30 percent behind their peers. *Rarely has there
been, nation-wide, a transfer of athletic revenue to academic budgets. *BSU
salaries still remain at the bottom of a list of 10 comparable metropolitan
universities. The Lewis-Clark State Warriors have had winning baseball
teams since 1972 with a win-loss percentage of .777, but average faculty
salaries are below Idaho K-12 teachers. For details go to


A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they
shall never sit in.

-Greek proverb

“Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity.
Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance
from another. This immaturity is self- imposed when its cause lies not in
lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without
guidance from another. Sapere Aude! ‘Have courage to use your own
understand-ing!—that is the motto of enlightenment.

--Immanuel Kant
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