Tuesday, April 17, 2007

DE Our Word on Athletics? Failure of logic.

The DE editorial staff is so clueless this year. Today they write about how Athletics doesn't drive enrollment at SIU. It starts -
There's been a lot of talk lately about how the prestige of a successful athletic department paves the way for a boost in enrollment.

At SIUC, it's only a theory.
Let me give the DE a theory back, that is as valid as what they write. If Athletics wasn't doing so well, enrollment would be down much more.

I guess someone who studies logic would see there are three options, Athletics makes enrollment go up, stay the same or go down. Since the DE didn't do their research, they don't know which is the general case or if that general case applies to SIU. All we know is that Athletics is doing well and that enrollment is down. We don't know know anything else.

This isn't as bad as their support of Pepper Holder in the primary or their toying with support for Sheila Simon, both of those things were really dumb, but this editorial doesn't shed any light on this issue. Come on DE, you can do better then this.

The DE closes with this "Either way, success on the court or field has nothing to do with success in enrollment." My word is, either way, the DE didn't do their research on this topic before they wrote their article.

Of course, your comments are welcome.

7 comments:

salukihoops said...

The DE really missed the mark here. This article is all over the place- first suggesting that we cant afford Lowery then saying he deserves every cent of his paycheck...

The truth is that the Mens Basketball team has gotten the school more recognition over the last 6 months than the marketing program could ever get.

So what is the suggestion of this article? Stop all athletics because attendance is not on the rise?

Athletics primary role is to develop student athletes and prepare them for eventual success in the workforce. A byproduct of the recent success is increased exposure for the university. In my opinion that can only be seen as a positive.

slthorne said...

As the editorial stated, that athletics has been doing fairly well for several years now, enough to justify a significant pay raise for Coach Lowery with minimal complaint, while enrollment has stayed the same or declined. while there's no evidence of causality, a reasonable observer could certainly infer negative, or more likely, minimal correlation between athletics and enrollment.

Sam W. Clyde said...

I have heard that applications are up by 10%. I also have heard that the orientation programs are a packed house.
Any and all positive press is good for SIU.
Unfortunately, the DE and its administrative advisors feel the need to make ignorant and negative statements on a regular basis.
Do they realize they are part of SIU or are do they think they are a separate organization. If they think they are separate, I say let them think that, and start a new paper with an smart administration.
I am sure a different campus paper that is accurate and responsible would out sell ads to the current one.

Bill Price said...

From my research the notion that successful athletic teams have a positive effect on student enrollment is little more than popular myth. It's touted when it's convenient, ignored when it isn't. Here's a link to one study that examines success and enrollment directly:

http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=author:%22Frank%22+intitle:%22Challenging+the+Myth+a+Review+of+the+Links+Among+College+...%22+&hl=en&rls=com.microsoft:*:IE-SearchBox&rlz=1I7TSHB&um=1&oi=scholarr

I don't know how to make that an active link but the jist is that if there is any causal relationship between the two it is very small.

Other studies focus mainly on how athletic success affects alumni donations. Again success as defined by post season play has little effect on increased income.

One study by the United States Sports Academy (my former employer) notes that in the year following a school having a Heismann Trophy winner new student applications rise at some institutions but drop at others. Incredibly, the author does not speculate that there may be no link at all between enrollment and athletics.

So, the DE has hit upon something although probably for the wrong reason.

Peter in Carbondale said...

Thanks for the real data Bill, I think that the DE should be able to research to this level. You can insert HTML statements to make your link hot, /a should work for you, but some commands don't work.

Sam -

I disagree with you on the DE's roll in SIU society. They are independent and a pretty darn good paper. If you look at the newspapers at most universities, the DE looks world class. They are good enough, that I complain about what they do, which I wouldn't do if they were only average.

They are independent and must stay independent, because otherwise they are just a PR platform for the administration and not a newspaper.

Normally, we might disagree on our beliefs on campaign issues or candidates, but this DE thing is important and I must respectfully disagree with your analysis on their roll in our community.

Anonymous said...

I think the DE should become a "learning lab" type paper that teaches student journalists how to report facts and research stories. One that does not try to influence our city politics, criticize our local businesses or compete with the Southern. One that is distributed only on campus and does not accept paid advertising. These kids won't even be here in 4 years to see how their careless comments might effect those of us who call Carbondale home. The grown-ups in charge don't seem to advise enough. When there is a mistake, like plagarism or false stories, the excuse is, "Oh, they are just students." I think that is wrong from a commercial newspaper.

Peter in Carbondale said...

My assumption is that you are going to put the $1M per year into the new no advertising DE to make it go?

What will the students learn about running a paper if we take away their right to make mistakes?

Mass Comm has been one of the top programs in the country because the students run the DE and WSIU Radio and TV. Do you really want to castrate the program?

I disagree, the Sports Illustrated on Campus flap of a few years ago, certainly shows the downside of children being allowed to publish anything. The should just get a blog if they want to publish garbage. :)