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A Lingering Question of Priorities: Athletic Budgets and Academic Performance Revisited


  • 1 This article is a project of the Texas Educational Excellence Project, a joint project of the Department of Political Science and the George Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University.


Many organization theories suggest that divergent goals can hamper an organization's pursuit of its primary mission. An earlier version of this article analyzed the effect of the pursuit of divergent goals on American public schools. This is an update of the original article that adds two years of data to the original study. Using an educational production function, this article assesses the relationships between athletic budgets and various aggregate measures of academic performance. Controlling for various known components of academic performance, athletic budgets have a significant negative relationship with academic performance. Schools that devote a large amount of resources to athletic budgets have lower levels of academic achievement. A focus on athletics seems to institutionalize goals that conflict with the schools’ academic missions.