High-Profile Athletics are Valuable to UWSP

After recent University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point conference wins in basketball and hockey, and a national win in basketball, UWSP may see an increase in applicants and enrollment in fall 2015.

While listening to the morning edition on NPR this week, I heard Kevin McKinley, financial adviser and UW-Madison alumnus, talk about how athletic success, especially in Division I universities, attracts prospective students.

McKinley said studies show that universities in big, highly-followed games see a one percent increase in applicants and a seven to eight percent increase in applicants if their team wins, during the next academic year.

As a small university in Division III, UWSP focuses less on athletics when speaking with prospective students. Only athletic recruiters, who are coaches, talk in depth about sports.

According to Chancellor Bernie Patterson, athletics at UWSP can hardly be considered a revenue generator.

Even though we may not focus on athletics at UWSP, we should understand that winning brings more than just happiness to players and coaches. Winning at the conference or national level promotes our university to prospective students.

Even though most universities in the UW System saw a decrease in tuition in the 2013-2014 academic year, UW-Whitewater saw an increase. It is possible this increase is due to the Warhawks winning national titles in football, men’s basketball, baseball, gymnastics, and men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball.

Rob Gambsky, assistant director of admissions at UW-Whitewater, said while the university does not have evidence of athletic championships influencing enrollment, he has no doubt the exposure athletic events provide helps attract students to the university.

Gmabsky also said UW-Whitewater has seen an increase in enrollment for the last six years, even before athletic teams got national recognition. However, he said wins have attracted more students from out of state than UW-Whitewater has seen in the past.

As we consider proposed budget cuts, we need to also consider keeping high-profile sports that draw attention to UWSP. By keeping money in athletics, we could see an increase in enrollment, especially after receiving national recognition.

Grace Ebert

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