Athletics and Admissions: The Impact of the Penn State Football Scandal on Student Quality
24 Pages Posted: 1 Jan 2020
Date Written: December 11, 2019
We ask whether a scandal in a university's athletics department affects the quality of the incoming, first-year student body. To do so, we evaluate the child sex abuse scandal at Penn State University in 2011. The violations involved a former employee with the crimes occurring a decade prior. Thus, the plausibly-exogenous shock allows us to make a causal identification of the scandal's effect on the university. We use synthetic control methods establishing economically meaningful impacts. We find that the average high school GPA is 0.12 points less and the proportion of students with high SAT Math scores is down 4.8 percentage points.
Keywords: admissions, football, higher education, scandal, synthetic control
JEL Classification: Z20, I23, H40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation