How football might be rescuing a commuter campus

As one of my previous link roundups has shown, at least a dozen small American colleges and universities have established or revived football teams to increase both revenue and the percentage of men on campus.

The plan seems to be working for many, and now there’s news that it’s working at one urban commuter school: Georgia State University in Atlanta.

Unlike programs a number of universities — among them St. Cloud State here in Minnesota — this one appears to have some money-making potential.

The university has spent $ 8.6 million on the team in the last two years — all from private donors and a special student fee.

Since then:

  • Alumni association membership has nearly doubled in seven months to 3,300;
  • This fall’s student applications have hit a record 12,091; and
  • Donations since the 2007 announcement of a football team are up 16 percent compared with the three years prior. Donations to the football program alone have hit nearly $3 million.

Officials say even an $8.6 million ad campaign wouldn’t have produced such results.

And Forbes.com describes its effect on two Georgia State seniors:

“The first day they played their football game, I felt the value of my degree … ” Price said, before his friend, senior Sam Chukwuma, jumped in excitedly.

” … go up. It did, I felt it,” said Chukwuma.

I’d like to know why football works on some campuses and not on others. The article mentions demand for football in the South and Midwest. (Not sure about the Midwest part of that, considering the plight of St. Cloud state and others.)

Sports have taken their licks lately considering the financial problems many campuses are having, but perhaps it’s a viable option if considered on a case-by-case basis.

Does anyone have any ideas?