People oppose paying college athletes by 3:1

The Miami Dolphins and the University of Florida Gators are the two most popular football teams in Florida, according to a new poll released by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute.

Five hundred Florida residents were asked to identify their favorite pro and college football teams. The Dolphins edged the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a touchdown, with 36 percent of state residents saying the Dolphins are their favorite football team and 29 percent loyal to the Buccaneers. The Jacksonville Jaguars were selected by 9 percent as their favorite team.

In the college ranks, residents were asked to identify their favorite team from a list of eight schools. The University of Florida Gators were number one, according to 25 percent of residents. The Florida State Seminoles placed second, with 19 percent. The University of Miami Hurricanes are the top team for 14 percent of state residents.

25% University of Florida Gators
19% Florida State Seminoles
14% University of Miami Hurricanes
7% University of Central Florida Knights
5% University of South Florida Bulls
3% Florida Atlantic University Owls
2% Florida A&M University Rattlers
2% Florida International University Panthers
1% Some other Florida college football team
22% Don’t know / not sure


“Fans are very loyal to their teams, and these results reflect that,” said Dr. Dene Williamson, associate professor of sport business at Saint Leo University. “Whether it’s current (Florida State) or past success (UF and Miami), people support their teams through thick and thin. Unlike the Buccaneers and Jaguars, the Dolphins have a deeply rooted history in Florida.”

Saint Leo University also polled a national sample about whether college athletes should be paid. By a three-to-one margin, the public opposes paying college athletes. Respondents were asked which of two statements came closest to their view:

Thinking about college athletic programs … at many big-time colleges, the men’s football and basketball teams make a lot of money for their schools. Which of the following statements comes closest to your view?

65% Giving athletic scholarships and the chance to earn a college degree for free is fair compensation for college athletes, and they should not be paid.
22% College athletes deserve to be paid for the time they spend practicing, traveling, and playing, above and beyond the value of any scholarships they might receive.
13% Don’t know unsure


“It will be interesting to see how the ‘pay-for-play’ issue plays out,” stated Dr. Williamson. “I have to give credit to teams that have tried to energize student-athletes to take an interest in financial gain, but I wonder where it will stop. They (student-athletes) have to determine if they are in college to play or to learn. The survey reinforces the public’s overwhelming support that college athletes should not be paid, for which I am in complete agreement.”

About the Saint Leo University Polling Institute/Methodology

This Saint Leo University nationwide poll of 1,013 adults including–748 likely voters–was conducted between September 29 and October 6, 2014. The margin of error on questions pertaining to national policies and issues is approximately 4.5 percent +/- with a 95 percent confidence level. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute conducts its surveys using cutting-edge online methodology, which is rapidly transforming the field of survey research. Sample is drawn from large online panels, which allow for random selections that reflect accurate cross sections of all demographic groups. Online methodology has the additional advantage of allowing participants to respond to the survey at a time, place, and speed convenient to them, which may result in more thoughtful answers. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute develops the questionnaires, administers the surveys, and conducts analysis of the results. Panel participants typically receive a token incentive–usually 50 cents deposited into an iTunes or Amazon account–for their participation.

Media Contacts: Kim Payne, staff writer and media coordinator, at or (352) 588-7233/(717) 798-1508 or Jo-Ann Johnston, academic communications manager, at or (352) 588-8237/(352) 467-0843.