PEMBROKE (April 19, 2022) – They’re known as the front porch of the university. But they’re also big business.
Athletics across the University of North Carolina System generate a total economic impact of $1.13 billion a year in the state and support nearly 10,000 jobs, according to a study presented to the UNC Board of Governors.
The study by EConsult Solutions Inc. (ESI) measured direct spending, capital spending, spending by fans and sales of licensed merchandise and advertising in Fiscal 2021.
It even acknowledged an impact from payments under the new “Name, Image and Likeness” (NIL) contracts college athletes are now allowed to sign, though it could not quantify them because the payments aren’t publicly disclosed.
THE STUDY found pronounced local impacts on the economies of college towns:
- UNC Chapel Hill athletics had an impact of $276.5 million in Orange, Chatham and Durham counties.
- NC State athletics had an impact of $224.9 million in Wake County.
- East Carolina athletics had an impact of $104.6 million in Pitt County.
- Appalachian State athletics had an impact of $92.7 million in Watauga County.
- UNC Charlotte athletics had an impact of $86.4 million in Mecklenburg County.
- And N.C. A&T and UNC Greensboro athletics together had an impact of $78.8 million in Guilford County.1
THE STUDY ALSO NOTED that sports have a profound social impact on school pride and identity, which can in turn lead to an enhanced reputation, more out-of-state applicants, a more academically selective student body and greater academic prestige.
It shared a recent example to show how.
When App State’s football team upset then 6th-ranked Texas A&M last September, it stunned the nation – and the networks.
ESPN shifted filming of its “College Gameday” pregame show to Boone the following week for Appalachian’s game against Troy State, and fans converged on Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone from both inside and outside North Carolina.
The coverage gave App State national exposure. And Chancellor Sheri Everts announced a 25% spike in applications soon after it appeared on the show.2
“We expect to see additional increases in enrollment, fundraising and media interest in the work of our faculty, staff and students as a result of this unprecedented publicity for App State,” Everts said.3
Jennifer Haygood, the UNC System’s chief financial officer, told board members yesterday that legislators welcomed the study.
The proposed 2023-25 budget approved by the state House this month allocates $10 million a year to support the 10 smallest athletic programs in the System, as well as a one-time $10 million for help with facilities.4
In addition, a bill to allow online sports betting has passed the House. If the bill becomes law, Haygood said, those same 10 schools – Elizabeth City State, Fayetteville State, N.C. A&T, N.C. Central, UNC Asheville, UNC Greensboro, UNC Pembroke, UNC Wilmington, Western Carolina and Winston-Salem State – would each receive about $300,000 a year for their athletic programs.5
1 https://www.northcarolina.edu/apps/bog/doc.php?id=67314&code=bog, pp. 43-44.
2 https://www.northcarolina.edu/apps/bog/doc.php?id=67314&code=bog, p. 41.
4 https://www.northcarolina.edu/apps/bog/doc.php?id=67317&code=bog, p. 10.
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