Princeton Review: Iowa State covets athletics


Photo: Kendra Plathe/Iowa State Daily

Josiah Ruhland, sophomore in pre-architecture, practices for the Iowa State Rugby Club on Sunday at the Lied Recreation Athletic Center. 

Alex Halsted

ISU students love their sports, according to Princeton Review.

Following surveys completed by more than 122,000 students across the country, Princeton Review, a test preparation and admissions consulting company, has ranked Iowa State at No. 9 on its “Everyone Plays Intramural Sports” list and No. 18 on its “Jock Schools” list.

The lists, which are just two of 62 released by Princeton Review, are compiled based on 80-question surveys presented to students at 376 schools across the country, including Iowa State.

David Soto, director of College Rankings and Ratings for Princeton Review, said the universities included are only the best of the best and rankings come straight from what the company perceives to be the true experts.

“We’re only looking at the top 15 percent of all four-year universities,” Soto said. “We go directly to who we believe to be the college experts and those are the current students.”

The surveys, which are completed by 375 students per school on average, use a Likert scale to determine the extent to which a student agrees or disagrees with a variety of questions regarding the university — including the popularity of athletics.

That’s where Iowa State scored its highest marks.

To determine the rankings for the list “Everyone Plays Intramural Sports,” survey participants were asked the question, “How popular are intramural sports at your school?”

Students, in general, agreed that intramural sports are popular on campus, and Garry Greenlee, associate director of Recreation Services, said the ranking speaks highly of the university’s intramural sports offering.

“It tells me that we offer a wide variety of different activities,” Greenlee said. “When you talk about the variety of the 40 to 50 different sports that we offer, I think that says a lot.”

Based on several significant surveys over the years, Rec services said around 70 percent of students play an intramural sport at least once during their time at Iowa State.

When looking at the percentage of students who use Recreation Services during their stay, the number increases to more than 90 percent. Greenlee said it all comes down to enjoyment.

“You can find something to do with our intramural program no matter what your skill level is,” Greenlee said. “Everybody can play, everybody can be a champion and everybody can enjoy it.”

The positive ranking for intramurals helped play a part in the school’s No. 18 ranking in the “Jock Schools” list, which Soto said is based on a culmination of survey questions.

“We’re looking directly at the popularity of fraternities and sororities as well as intercollegiate athletics and intramurals on campus,” Soto said.

Iowa State ranked highly because of the popularity of its 55 fraternities and sororities, its intramural program and the increasing popularity of intercollegiate athletics.

“I think any time you make a top 20 ranking when you’re looking at roughly 400 schools, it’s something positive,” said Steve Malchow, senior associate athletics director. “We’ve seen the enthusiasm, so I’m glad someone else recognized that. That’s a feather in the cap well earned by Iowa State students.”

The enthusiasm has shown this fall through ticket sales. Student football season tickets have already surpassed last season’s total and student tickets for men’s basketball sold out faster than ever before this past summer, said ISU Athletic Director Jamie Pollard.

Because of the students’ growing interest, Malchow said, Iowa State has been highly ranked.

“College sports are obviously extremely popular across the country and when you’re playing at the top level like we are, that’s an easy draw; people want to be involved with that,” Malchow said. “There is a common thread: our athletics events are fun to come to, the kids enjoy it and they’re buying in.”