This originally appeared in the Boulder Daily Camera on December 1, 2012.
Former Buffs football coach Jon Embree has claimed some credit for his players’ improved GPAs: “You had the highest GPA the last three semesters that this school has ever had in the football program,” he said. If Embree is to blame for CU football’s losses, he might also take some credit for improving GPAs of CU football fans.
Like the Buffs, the University of Oregon Ducks play in the Pac-12 conference. Economists there tracked student GPAs as the Ducks’ winning percentage varied over nine years. For male students, they found “meaningful decreases in the probabilities of receiving As and Bs and increases in the probabilities of receiving Cs or lower … in response to the success of the team.” Seeking an explanation, their student survey found, predictably, that: “Relative to females, males report being more likely to increase alcohol consumption, decrease studying, and increase partying around the success of the football team.”
As for the Buffs’ team GPA, the value of a high GPA depends on the major. Forbes.com lists the ten worst and fifteen best college majors in terms of post-graduation employment and earnings prospects. The Wall Street Journal recently listed college majors of around one thousand students on major-college football teams. Just two percent of players’ majors were among Forbes’ best. Meanwhile, almost forty percent of players’ majors were among, or similar to, one of Forbes’ worst majors. Eight percent “majored” in general studies.