Athletics impact on grades minimal, students up house values, says professor
Feb. 23, 2005
By Lindsay Hitz '08
LEWISBURG, Pa. - Does time required for athletic participation have an effect on a student's academic performance?
Bucknell associate professor of economics Thomas Kinnaman answered that question in the lunch talk, "Student Life at Bucknell: Two Econometric Applications."
Applying econometric techniques to explore the relationship between athletic participation and student performance, Kinnaman examined the effect of varsity athletic participation on academic performance using 2004 graduating class data.
He started with competing hypotheses: "Athletic preparation and participation reduces time for class work, or, Athletic preparation and participation improves time management skills and the ability to achieve goals."
Kinnaman found that for statistically similar students athletes had an in major GPA of .033 less than comparable non-athletes. "The data suggest that this difference is the difference between a B+ and an A- in one course," he said.
With this minor difference, he concluded that "athletic preparation and participation has a minimal impact on academic performance."
In another study, Kinnaman looked at the off-campus student living impact on local property values. Student researchers Kendra Johnston '04 and Lisa Thier '05 contributed to the study.
Kinnaman started with two competing hypotheses: "Students living off campus generate noise and litter and, thereby, reduce local property values, or, Students contribute to the overall demand for housing in Lewisburg and, therefore, increase property values."
For the study, he used an econometric model that examined sales prices of student housing with comparative non-student housing using data from Lewisburg. The results revealed that the average student house sold for 24.7 percent more than a comparative house, or about $25,000 per house.
"Using this estimate, Bucknell students increase property values of all Lewisburg homes by $5.875 million, which is $25,000 times 235 units," he said. "This increase in property values results from the higher rents from having more individuals compete for the same number of houses."
While the athletics and GPA study was specifically motivated by a question asked by the Committee on Athletics on which Kinnaman serves as a member, he said his main motivation in completing the two studies was "to help the Bucknell community to understand these issues" and that interpretations of the data were open for consideration.
Lindsay Hitz, a first-year student majoring in political science, is a Presidential Fellow in the Communications Office at Bucknell.
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