A recent study has revealed that the Sunshine State Conference (SSC) and its nine member institutions generate more than $4.6 million annually for the state of Florida.
Focused solely on the economic impact of student-athletes and coaches from out-of-state visiting squads who travel to Florida to participate in athletic contests against SSC teams, the examination found that a typical SSC athletics program annually hosts 72 different teams from non-Florida based schools. Those opposing teams generate more than $485,000 each year and in excess of 1,500 hotel room nights for each of the nine SSC communities. Collectively, the nine SSC athletic programs spur more than $4 million annually in statewide economic impact from out-of-state visitors, as well as over 15,000 hotel room nights.
The ultimate estimated economic impact is figured conservatively, only focusing on out-of-state teams and their coaches, for two reasons. First, because of varied travel patterns, there were too many variables to attempt to compute the in-state impact of intra-conference play or contests conducted against other Florida-based teams not affiliated with the league. Also, there was no way to accurately determine how many parents and fans travel with teams visiting SSC campuses for competition. Inevitably, both factors would also provide a positive impact for the nine communities in which SSC schools are located.
“I truly believe that the value of the SSC is in its student-athletes and the academic and athletic excellence that they demonstrate year after year,” SSC Commissioner Jay Jones said. “That said, we are often asked to quantify the impact that our conference has on our state and its communities. This study allows us to show the value of bringing college athletic teams into the state of Florida.”
In addition to each member institution hosting athletic events, the SSC also conducts seven stand-alone conference championship events each year. These SSC championships yield more than $600,000 annually for the communities in which they are held.
“The numbers are pretty amazing, especially if you realize the limitations on this type of study and that these numbers don’t really give the entire picture of the full economic value of our conference participation,” Jones said.
Located in Winter Park, the Sunshine State Conference is the only NCAA conference headquartered in the state of Florida. Its nine member institutions, all located within the state, are: Barry University (Miami Shores), Eckerd College (St. Petersburg), Florida Southern College (Lakeland), Florida Institute of Technology (Melbourne), Lynn University (Boca Raton), Nova Southeastern University (Ft. Lauderdale), Rollins College (Winter Park), Saint Leo University (Saint Leo), and the University of Tampa.
The SSC sponsors 16 intercollegiate sports that compete in NCAA Division II. More than 2,000 student-athletes participate in men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s swimming, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis, baseball, softball, and women’s rowing.
SSC schools have won 76 NCAA Division II national championships, and the league is the top-rated academic conference in Division II.