TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — In a profile this week by the New York Times, the University of Alabama’s football program is hailed as a ‘powerful engine’ to the state’s academics, economy, and culture.
In The New York Times article “Alabama Rolls Up Money, With Tide Lifting All Boats,” the University of Alabama is highlighted as a catalyst for success in the state of Alabama.
“The success of Crimson Tide football can be measured off the field as well, as it has become a powerful engine for the university’s economic and academic growth, a standout among other large public universities with a similar zest for capitalizing on their sports programs,” according to the NY Times.
Economically, Alabama’s football program is “an enterprise that generates more than $95 million annually.” Academically, the football program helps attracts top-of-the-line students.
“Just like Nick Saban has recruited five-star athletes, the university is going after the best and brightest students,” said Calvin Brown, Alabama’s director of alumni affairs. “We understand that there are young people out there who first view us, or any other institution, through the window of athletics.”
According to the NYT article, within the last decade the University of Alabama has seen serious growth. It’s enrollment has increased by 55 percent, with more than half of the students now being from out of state. In addition, the acceptance rate fell from 72 percent to 54 percent. This year, over 2,250 freshmen are enrolled in its Honors College, which is more than double the number 10 years ago.
Perhaps most impressively, Alabama’s 174 National Merit and National Achievement finalists rank Alabama among the top five public universities.
The success of the University of Alabama is due in part to their branding of the football team and university as a whole. Bill Battle, Alabama’s athletic director, recognized long ago that having a brand ties the Alabama community together.
“I knew how important universities are to communities and alumni,” Battle told the NYT. “Those markings, the school brand, were worth a lot of money, and they were leaving it on the table.”
Battle created the Collegiate Licensing Company, trademarking the iconic “A” and “Roll Tide!” and springing the university into a strategic place in the collegiate merchandising industry. Now, the collegiate merchandise market has $4.6 billion in annual sales.
Not to mention, companies pay hundreds of thousands of dollars simply to advertise in the Bryant-Denny stadium, acknowledging the value in partnering with such a dynamic brand image.
Also, all of these factors influence potential students as they look into where they want to attend college.
One student, freshman Molly Brautigan, was accepted at South Carolina, Clemson, Georgia and L.S.U., but ultimately chose Alabama because she thought the academics were as strong as the social scene.
“I wanted to attend a big Southern school with big football, big Greek life and warm weather,” she said to the New York Times.
Molly’s mother added, “As soon as she stepped on campus, she knew that was where she wanted to be.”
To read the full article from the New York Times, click here.