The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is the sixth-most efficient public school in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III athletics, according to a recent study by UW-Whitewater economics professor Russ Kashian and student Jeff Pagel.
The UW-Whitewater faculty-student team researched how effectively universities used their resources to score points in the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup competition.
The Directors’ Cup is an award given annually by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics to the university with the most success in collegiate athletics. Points are based on the order of finish in various NCAA sponsored championships.
“There is a select group of schools that is markedly more efficient than the rest,” Kashian said. “If an athletic department’s goal is to accumulate Directors’ Cup points and win championships, further examination of this data can provide a roadmap on how to improve operations – whether it be adding appropriate sports or altering spending patterns.”
UW Oshkosh Chancellor Richard Wells said the research is very encouraging, a validation of UW-Oshkosh’s commitment to athletic and academic success for students through the efficient design, delivery and execution of the campus’s array of athletic programs.
“It is very fulfilling to learn of research that validates a mission and ethic we hold very dear at UW Oshkosh – that we be just as efficient in how we develop and carry out our athletic programs as we are in our academic programs,” Wells said. “We are committed to stewardship of quality, responsible, successful and financially-sustainable experiences for students on the field, court or course just as we are in the classroom and community.”
Using data from 2007-12, the study reviewed recruiting expenses per student, operating expenses for athletic programs, the number of men’s and women’s participants, size of school and number of coaches per sport. The analysis used an efficiency score rating from 0 to 1.00.
The top public school in the rankings was The College of New Jersey with a score of .760. The University of Texas at Tyler ranked second at .682, followed by Salisbury University (Md.) at .617, Christopher Newport University (Va.) at .605, UW-Whitewater at .588 and UW-Oshkosh at .582.
Rounding out the top 10 public schools were No. 7 UW-Stevens Point at .577, No. 8 State University of New York-Cortland at .532, No. 9 UW-Eau Claire at .516 and No. 10 Eastern Connecticut State University at .491.
Calvin College (Mich.) ranked first among the private schools with a score of .865. Amherst College (Mass.) ranked second at .839, Emory University (Ga.) third at .836, Messiah College (Pa.) fourth at .778 and Washington University (Mo.) fifth at .759.
The study of nearly 450 schools revealed several trends. Overall, private schools had the highest efficiency scores, as did larger public universities.
“It’s likely that there are structural characteristics in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference that lead those schools to be extremely efficient,” Kashian said. “We don’t know exactly what those are – they could be policy-related, but the result is very noticeable.”
Since the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup competition began in 1996, UW Oshkosh has totaled 15 top-25 finishes. The Titans placed third in 1996, fifth in 1997 and seventh in 2001. UW Oshkosh finished 21st in the standings a year ago.
UW Oshkosh is the owner of 30 NCAA Division III titles, including nine in women’s outdoor track & field, eight in women’s indoor track & field, four in both men’s and women’s cross country and two in baseball.