To date, little empirical work has examined the institutional returns associated with athletic program investments. While intangible brand effects are commonly cited, such as athletics serving as the perceptual "front porch" of the institution, direct examination of the effects of athletic programs has often been narrow in scope. Within this study, we assess the contributions of investment in athletics as compared to other areas of institutional investment, on important institutional outcomes. Data for the study was collected from two datasets, the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and the Equity in Athletics dataset. Fixed effects models for NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision schools were constructed to assess the return on investment relative to total institutional revenues, gift revenues, student application rates, and student graduation rates. Findings reveal that for every dollar of athletic expenditure per FTE $2.12 of core revenues per FTE, $.24 in gift revenues per FTE, and a .165% increase in graduation rates were produced.

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Copyright © 2012, Sport Marketing Association. This article first appeared in Sport Marketing Quarterly: 21 (2012), 104-114.

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