Clowney's impact on USC goes beyond draft pick

by: Phil Orban Updated:


NEW YORK - University of South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is in New York City Wednesday ahead of Thursday’s NFL draft.
The former Big 22 player is expected to be the overall No. 1 pick.

Regardless if Clowney is the first pick or not, officials and experts agree Clowney will have a lasting, positive impact on the university.

"I don't think there's any question that Jadeveon's experience here as a student athlete in the last three years has been impactful for our university and our athletic department," said Ray Tanner, athletic director for USC.

Clowney, as a first pick, won't provide an instant boost to the University of South Carolina because it's already happened, according to sports economist Craig Depken of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Belk College of Business.

A university that bursts onto the scene athletically like becoming a top 20 football program will see a 2-10 percent increase in admissions, he said.

"So that means they have a broader pool to choose from in the student body,” Depken said. “They can draw a line in terms of who they accept in terms of say higher SAT or ACT scores, incoming (grade-point averages) from high school so now the quality of the student body actually increases because of what happens on the gridiron."

Retention rate is higher and fewer students drop out when a team is doing better.

Also, alumni donations and funding increases.

"The benefits are relatively small but they seem to add up," Depken said.

These bumps won't necessarily be seen immediately but applications are already in and students are looking ahead to the summer but a prime time appearance on national TV is a rare opportunity for the University of South Carolina.

"It puts our university in a place. That's very difficult to get to the exposure -- the branding you get you can't pay for that kind of attention and it's all positive,” Tanner said.

So while South Carolina may not notice a bump Thursday night if Clowney walks across the stage as the number one overall pick. Over the last three years, he has helped move them back onto the national stage and USC is better off for having had him on campus and on the football field.