Championship could help boost admissions

William Evans

Many students would agree that collegiate sports attract large crowds of people to college campuses.

At the University, football is no exception.

A legacy of national championships coupled with an undefeated team this season has revived the Tide’s status as a formidable national competitor in the world of collegiate athletics.

With each win, the Tide inevitably drew in more attention to its prowess on the gridiron, which contributed to its reputation of having an outstanding football program.

As a result of last season, this increasing popularity could lead to more students applying to the University out of a sense of fanfare or loyalty to the team.

Mary Spiegel, UA executive director of undergraduate admissions, said that it’s too early to tell how admissions could be affected as a result of this past undefeated season.

“It’s too early to say whether the national championship will have an effect on applications,” Spiegel said in an emailed statement.

Spiegel said the University has experienced a rapid rise in enrollment in recent years.

“Our recruiting efforts over the last few years have certainly been effective in encouraging more students to apply,” Spiegel said.

Spiegel said that in 2003, the total number of applications for admission the University received was approximately 8,129, a small figure when compared to the 19,500 applications received in 2009. In addition, freshman enrollment has increased from 3,075 in 2003 to 5,207 in 2009.

“ The quality of our students, based on ACT scores and high school GPAs, has never been higher,” Spiegel said.

Although direct correlations between this football season and this year’s admissions are tenuous at best, Spiegel projects that the national championship will have a more than positive impact on the University.

“We are excited about the national exposure that comes with the BCS Championship,” Spiegel said. “We expect it to have a positive impact on many areas of the University.”

Ahmad Ijaz, an economic analyst at UA’s Center for Business and Economic Research, said that the national championship would definitely have a positive impact not only on admissions, but also on all other aspects of the University.

Ijaz, who has conducted research on the football program’s impact on the local economy as well as the state as a whole, said that every home football game contributes approximately $21.4 million to the state and $14.2 million to the city of Tuscaloosa.

In terms of future projections for next season, Ijaz said that the recent national championship victory would most likely boost these numbers, as more people are looking forward to next season.

“These numbers will go up significantly as more visitors will be on campus to watch the game,” Ijaz said. “This increase in numbers will have a much more significant impact on the city of Tuscaloosa and the University.”

Although Ijaz said it is still too early to pinpoint exact numbers following the national championship, he believes that the economic benefits from the football games will ultimately entice more and more students to enroll at the University.