An interesting question is: Why are Ivy League colleges so sports-crazed?
Princeton for example has 18 men’s teams and 17 women’s teams.
Princeton’s endowment is $26.1 billion, so I would imagine that the answer has to at least partly be: Because sports bring in donations.
But why? Is it because donors like to win (e.g., if, say, Princeton’s squash team beats Yale, do old Princetonian Wall Streeters who got to brag to their Yaley colleagues write bigger checks to Princeton)?
Or is it because winners grow up to be donors (e.g., Princeton’s squash players are likelier to write bigger checks to Princeton in 30 years than Princeton’s nerds and geeks)?
And if more the latter, why? Do ex-jocks make a higher income? Or do they donate a higher percentage of their income? Or both?
From the Daily Princetonian:
Ivy League athletics are the new “Moneyball”
By Liam O’Connor | Oct 10, 2019
… I dug into the online 2019 team rosters for all eight Ivy League universities to see who’s playing for them and where they came from.
The vast majority were likely recruited. The Daily Princetonian previously reported, “recruits dominate the rosters of the other 33 varsity Princeton teams [besides rowing], which typically include one to two walk-ons.”
My results show that sports pump hundreds of students from America’s richest towns and private “feeder schools” into elite colleges.
The homes of the Ivy League’s more than 7,000 athletes were clustered around the suburbs of major cities. They mostly lived in the Interstate 95 Corridor, which extends from Washington, D.C. to Boston. Other hotspots included Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. One in 10 American players lived in a hometown featured on Bloomberg’s 2018 list of “100 Richest Places.”
Connecticut’s Gold Coast had the highest concentration of athletes of any area in the U.S. One hundred and ninety-five came from lower Fairfield County, a third of whom were Greenwich residents alone. Rowing was the most popular sport there, followed by squash.
Not to be outdone too easily, Boston and the North Shore’s 15 richest suburbs sent 185 athletes, with Wellesley, Massachusetts — whose median household income is $176,852 — as the leading contributor.
Northern Virginia provided 117 athletes. McLean and Alexandria — two of the state’s wealthiest towns — were tied for having the most in this region. Maryland’s affluent D.C. suburbs also slam-dunked students into athletics. Bethesda sent 29; Potomac, 16; and Chevy Chase, 15.
Ninety-three athletes resided in the 10 towns of Westchester County, New York, that were featured on the Bloomberg list, all of which had average household incomes above $196,000. Philadelphia’s Main Line sent another 87, and Chicago’s North Shore suburbs sent 59.
The top 10 towns in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, California, were home to 60 and 53 athletes, respectively. Orange County’s highest 10 income towns also sent 53.
Rich suburbs gave the Ivy League a disproportionately large share of its athletes, but cities still reigned in some cases. New York City was home to 151 players; Los Angeles, 64; and Houston, 49.
Only two athletes lived in either North Dakota or West Virginia, and four athletes in either Wyoming or Mississippi.
London, United Kingdom, was the most popular foreign city for finding athletes. It sent 75, almost half of whom were rowers. At 46, Toronto, Canada, was the next most popular place abroad.
Team rosters also showed that private high schools funneled dozens of athletes into the Ivy League.
The Noble and Greenough School (annual cost: $58,100 for boarding students) had 50 alumni as varsity athletes. Deerfield Academy ($60,680) came in second with 36 students; Phillips Exeter Academy ($55,402), third, with 32; and the Lawrenceville School ($66,360), fourth, with 30.
One out of every seven British athletes attended Eton College ($51,324) or St. Paul’s School ($47,378), of whom the majority were rowers.
Greenwich High School topped the public school list with 32 athletes. Newport Beach’s Corona del Mar High School and the Chicago North Shore’s New Trier High School tied for second at 21. Other notable top public schools whose contributions occupy the high teens include Princeton High School, Weston High School, Darien High School, and Manhasset High School.
At least 11 private high schools had 20 or more seniors who became athletes, versus just three public schools. …
, men’s volleyball, and water polo for both genders were the most western sports. They were each centered in Los Angeles.
Volleyball and water polo have always been well-respected sports in SoCal.
Men’s squash, men’s hockey, men’s tennis, and men’s heavyweight rowing were clustered in the northeast, around northern New Jersey or New York. Fencing was split between the coasts.
Women’s soccer, women’s softball, and women’s volleyball were the sole sports based in the southern states, though men’s football also had a strong southern contingent. Polo players were concentrated in the northeast.
Not a single skier came from the South or the Great Plains.
That would be a good Rick Singer scandal 1980s-style teen comedy movie plot. Rich kid from Palm Beach, FL who has never seen snow or mountains gets into Princeton as a skier, but then due to mishap is forced to race in the match with Dartmouth down the double black diamond run at Lake Placid.
Ivy League schools offer over 30 sports for men and women, which is often more than what’s available at “powerhouse” schools. College Factual reported that the University of Alabama had 640 student-athletes in 22 sports. Last spring, Princeton had 920 in 37.
USC, a giant private university in a part of the country with traditionally high interest in minor Olympic sports, has about 20 teams. (2028 will be the third time the Olympic opening ceremony will be held in the Coliseum adjoining the USC campus.)
The Harvard Crimson found that Harvard spends $1 million per year on recruitment expenses alone. …
About a fifth of the seats in each incoming class go to recruited athletes. Most of them don’t play high profile revenue-generating sports like football or basketball. They play the “country club sports” of polo, sailing, squash, rowing, and fencing, among others. Many of these sports are limited in their regional extent.
Athletes disproportionately come from private high schools — usually in the northeast. The high schools with the most Ivy League athletes are the same schools that send the most students to Harvard and Princeton as featured on PolarisList, except for those with academic admissions tests like Stuyvesant and Thomas Jefferson High Schools.
The Crimson’s survey revealed that nearly half of recruits in the Class of 2022 came from families earning more than $250,000 per year. Less than 13 percent of their families have annual paychecks under $81,000. NCAA data say that 65 percent of athletes are white, a higher proportion than many of their student bodies.
I would guess that women athletes at Princeton are a higher percentage white than men athletes, because there is no football team and because Latinas don’t play much sports, unless they are rich girls from Latin America.
In college, Bowen and Levin found that athletes lagged in their studies behind what their high school academic scores predicted, and this underperformance continued into the off-season when physical exhaustion was not an issue. Walk-ons and non-athletes didn’t suffer from the same poor scores.
Despite this dismal record, colleges pour more money into athletics than any other extracurricular activity. At Princeton, the athletics department received $32.3 million last year. … The Harvard Crimson and the Yale Daily News reported that Wall Street firms recruit dozens of athletes into high paying jobs through their networks of alumni who were athletes themselves. Presumably, a number of their children in the future will want to play sports at their parent’s alma mater or somewhere similar.
One question is whether athletic admits are often doing double duty as Developmental admits? We saw with the Varsity Blues scandal that Rick Singer could find corrupt coaches at colleges, like the Yale women’s soccer coach, to take personal bribes to let in rich kids who were no good at the sport. Of course, it’s not illegal for Ivy League colleges to take an institutional bribe.
So maybe Ivy League colleges have institutionalized this: Okay, coach, we’ll give you 12 admits, but 2 of them have to be Top Tier Likely Donors and 6 of them Second Tier Likely Donors according to our Donor Forecast Model.
If any readers out there have been employed on statistically modeling who donates, let us know what the findings tend to be.