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Athletics and Admissions: The Impact of the Penn State Football Scandal on Student Quality

Candon Johnson and Bryan McCannon ()

Journal of Sports Economics, 2022, vol. 23, issue 2, 200-221

Abstract: We ask whether a scandal in a university’s athletics department affects the quality of the incoming 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. 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 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: H40 I23 Z20 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1177/15270025211039444

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Handle: RePEc:sae:jospec:v:23:y:2022:i:2:p:200-221