Athletics, giving stats are shaky

Two claims in the article, “Study reveals link between athletics, giving,” in the October 18 issue of the Record are difficult to reconcile. The first: “The Dow, it turned out, was the largest contributor to fluctuations in alumni giving.” The second: “Athletic success in 1996 would account for 91 percent of the change in alumni giving between 1997 and 1998.”

If athletic success truly accounted for 91 percent of the change in giving between 1997 and 1998, then the Dow could account for, at most, the remaining nine percent of the change. That would obviously make athletic success, and not the Dow, the largest contributing factor. On the other hand, if the Dow were truly the most significant variable, then athletic success could account for no more than 50 percent of the change in giving.

Since the two published claims cannot both be true, there must be a flaw in either the study or the Record’s explanation of its results. I hope the Record will clarify the situation, since it is important to obtain a genuine understanding of the correlation between athletic success and alumni giving.