Date of Award

Spring 6-15-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

PhD Higher Education Leadership, Management, Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Robert Kelchen, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Rong Chen, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kristina Navarro, Ph.D.


NCAA, basketball, Division I Men’s Basketball, March Madness, Cinderella, non-Power Five, athletics impact on campus


This study examined the relationship between a non-Power Five Cinderella team in the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament and institutional financial and admissions factors. The purpose of this study was to examine what, if anything, changes for a non-Power Five school who makes the March Madness tournament as compared to those similar schools who do not. This was a unique study because it looks at the variables of percent admitted, applications, enrollment, SAT/ACT, and donations together, different from the current body of research which has looked at many of these institutional factors separately. Additionally, many of these studies are significantly outdated, conducted in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, and do not take into account the new composition of Division I athletics with the Power Five conferences and all others. This study also provides a non-traditional definition of Cinderella that is both logical and unique. The research question at the heart of this study looked at whether or not winning a game or just making it to the March Madness tournament for schools outside of the Power Five conferences led to an increase in stronger applicants or greater financial donations relative to schools that did not make the tournament, looking both immediately and three years later. The study determined that the research question was not statistically significant across the board using either definition of Cinderella when analyzing all non-Power Five schools or when excluding the BIG EAST Conference. The only statistical findings were three years out a Cinderella team saw an increase in the number of applications to the school and the percent of students admitted. Implications of the study, limitations, as well as suggestions for future research are discussed.