Measuring the Value of Varsity Athletics Through Student Retention and the Balanced Scorecard Strategy
This case study determines the value of student athletic programs at Canadian universities, using Vancouver Island University (VIU) as a reference case. First, the study compares Canadian varsity athletics to American collegiate athletics to consider the relative economic value of collegiate athletics between the two countries. Second, the study assesses graduation rates and retention of student athletes in Canadian varsity programs as an indicator of the academic value of these programs. Graduation rates and ten-year trends were found using data retrieved from VIU records of past athletes and the credentials they received. Finally, the Balanced Scorecard (BSC) strategy was also employed to explore ways for institutions to create more value for their athletic departments. The BSC strategy focuses on four main pillars of business that have unique objectives and measures to ensure goals are completed. These strategies can be used to create value by reliably predicting outcomes. Value can be perceived in several non-financial ways from an institutional standpoint, including student success, athletic reputation, or pride in school culture among students and staff. Using the BSC could help Canadian collegiate athletic programs overcome the many barriers that stand in the way of sustainable operations. In this case study, we discovered that, with the overwhelming difference in resources between the US and Canada, Canadian varsity athletics may need to find new ways to engage stakeholders after a year of low activity due to the pandemic. Moreover, results of the graduation data indicate that VIU, the test institution, has had a dramatic incline in academic success since 2016 and that the strategies that have been set in place have fostered a more nurturing educational environment for its athletes. It will be important to continue this type of research among all institutions in the U-Sport/Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) to refresh the current systems in place that yield little return on investment (ROI) for stakeholders. With the suggested strategies in this case study, user groups and stakeholders should see noticeable improvement from four different perspectives: internal, external, financial, and innovation/learning and growth. The BSC is a great tool because it does not require a massive modification of operations. It is a cost-effective solution to scoping in on one area of need at a time if necessary. The information gained may be incredibly useful for determining how to improve one’s athletic department.
Vancouver Island University World Leisure Centre of Excellence
© R.E.R. Davidson, 2021