Wikipedia "Flutie Effect".
The Flutie effect or Flutiactor refers to the phenomenon of having a successful sports team increase the exposure and prominence of a university. This is named after the Boston College's Doug Flutie whose successful Hail Mary pass in the 1984 game against the University of Miami clinched the win and that win supposedly played a large role in the increase in applications to Boston College the following year.
Writing in the Spring 2003 edition of Boston College Magazine,  Bill McDonald, director of communications at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education determined that “Applications to BC did surge 16 percent in 1984 (from 12,414 to 14,398), and then another 12 percent (to 16,163) in 1985. But these jumps were not anomalous for BC, which in the previous decade had embarked on a program to build national enrollment using market research, a network of alumni volunteers, strategically allocated financial aid, and improvements to residence halls and academic facilities.” He also observed that “in 1997, one year after revelations about gambling resulted in a coach’s resignation, 13 student-athlete suspensions, an investigation by the NCAA, and hundreds of embarrassing media reports, applications for admission came in at 16,455, virtually unchanged from the previous year. Two years later, when applications jumped by a record 17 percent to 19,746, the surge followed a 4-7 year for football.” Going further back in history, he reported that applications had increased 9% in 1978, a year when BC football had its worst year ever, with a 0-11 record.
Mr. McDonald posed the question “How does an idea like the “Flutie factor” become sufficiently rooted that the New York Times cites it as a given without further comment and some universities invest millions of dollars in its enchanting possibilities?” He was provided with an answer by Barbara Wallraff, author of the “Word Court” column in the Atlantic Monthly: “It’s painful to fact-check everything. Media will often reprint what has been published, especially when it appears in reputable publications. ‘Flutie factor’ is a short, alliterative way to describe something that is complicated to explain. But what makes a good term is not always the literal truth.”