What do the 2019 AP Preseason Top 25 College Football Poll and our 2018 list of institutions with publicly-available living wage policies have in common? More than you might think.

You know autumn is just around the corner when the AP releases its annual pre-season poll of sportswriters and broadcasters ranking the top 25 college football teams. Since I both teach and earned my degrees at institutions that don’t play NCAA football, I don’t have a strong on-field rooting interest…

…but whenever I see a list a schools, I refer back to this project and last year’s (2018) list of 32 American higher education institutions (HEIs) with (either all or part of) a living wage policy publicly available on their institution’s website – that about 1% of all four year HEIs (see my AASHE webinar here).

It looks as though schools with (preseason) top-ranked football teams are more likely to have some form of living wage policy than the larger population of all institutions. Out of the 25 teams making the 2019 preseason poll, only 3 institutions were on last year’s living wage policy – that’s 12% of teams in the poll. Only 1 of the 21 teams “also receiving votes” in the poll is on the living wage policy list, so out of all 46 teams receiving votes, about 8.5% of the are on the living wage policy list.

The four teams/institutions are 16th ranked Auburn University (2018 Living Wage Policy score 40), 19th ranked University of Wisconsin (35), 25th ranked Stanford University of Wisconsin-Madison (90), and “also-receiving votes” but unranked Utah State University (20).

I’m pondering this: If all 3,000+ four year institutions in America had living wage policies at the same rate as the 46 vote-getting schools in the AP preseason football poll, there would be over 250 institutions with some sort of living wage policy (instead of 32).

This fall I’m soliciting participation from chief human resource officers (CHROs) in this project to answer that question. As before, I’ll be asking if living wage policies and/or practices are in effect. I’ll be asking institutions with policies to provide them, and I’ll be inviting CHROs at colleges with living wage policies or practices to be interviewed about their institution’s practices. Of particular interest to me is (a) how those living wage policies came about, and (b) the financial impact of those policies on institutions.

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