Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects


Political Science

Document Type



Social media is a key communication tool for American universities. This research project is an exploratory look at how universities communicate with stakeholders via social media. In particular, the primary purpose is to explore potential emphasis on academic programs relative to the promotion of athletics as a marketing tool to bolster identity and recruit students. 3000 tweets were collected from 130 NCAA Division 1 American universities. In total, roughly 500,000 tweets have been scraped and classified using an automated script to assess tweet content. Particular emphasis was given to the concept of university rebranding as a broader marketing strategy for student enrollment. Analysis suggests a system of “have and have not” universities in which schools with more prestigious and profitable athletic programs are communicating less about athletics. Schools in less successful conferences, however, are paying significant sums to prop up their athletic programs in an attempt to recruit students and gain prestige through athletics. This research provides valuable insights into what role collegiate athletics plays in university communication strategies along with the value of athletics to a university more broadly.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Scott Lasley, Joel Turner, Jeffrey Budziak


Communication | Computer Sciences | Political Science | Student Counseling and Personnel Services