Our study examines the impact of the transition from NCAA Football Championship Series (FCS) participation to Football Bowl Series (FBS) participation on demand for university football. The primary empirical analysis uses 23 schools that transitioned to the FBS between 1987 and 2013 to examine attendance effects. We first examine the change as a type of event study and estimate the impact in a short run “transition window” of the 5 years leading up to and after the transition. We then estimate the long run impact of membership on annual attendance over a period extending from 5 years before transition through 2013 for all transition schools. Finally, we estimate impact on an alternative sample that includes a control group of top performing FCS schools that have not transitioned to FBS. The results derived from these panel regressions indicate a substantial positive impact on per game attendance over the transition period and for many years beyond the transition. (JEL codes: L83, L29.)
Brian Goff and Dennis P. Wilson are with the Department of Economics, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky. W. Currie Martin is with the Athletics Department, University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee. Brandon Spurlock is with the Athletics Department, Boston College, Boston, Massachusetts.