How Victories in Sports Boost A University’s Bottom Line
By Ellen Svehla
The entire nation was shocked when Loyola University Chicago’s basketball team made it to the Final Four.
Although the Ramblers lost to the University of Michigan on March 31, the university itself scored a big win. There’s been a massive surge in student applications, web site traffic, merchandise sales, alumni engagement and public awareness.
The boost schools receive after winning in a national tournament is known as the Flutie Effect. The theory is named after Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie, who threw an improbable last-second “Hail Mary” pass that resulted in a game-winning touchdown against the University of Miami in 1984.
After that legendary game, applications to Boston Colllege went up by 30 percent.
Other universities have also been touched by the Flutie Effect. Applications to Florida Gulf Coast University increased by 27.5 percent following their 2013 NCAA run. Visits to the university’s website increased from 47,067 to 230,985.
In 2008, after a string of March Madness wins, George Mason University saw their applications increase by 22 percent.
And now, it’s Loyola’s turn. According to USA Today, the university has already seen a 400 percent increase in traffic to the school’s website. The campus bookstore sold 5000 Sister Jean bobbleheads during a 48 hour period in March, according to the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum. The university newspaper, The Phoenix, reported that the bookstore’s sales are up by 300 percent over last year.
David Kamerer, Associate Professor in Public Relations and Digital Media at Loyola, is thrilled by the earned media and increased marketing reach the university has gained from March Madness. Kamerer says, “The key thing here is that this puts us in a stronger recruiting position. In the future, people will think of us as a legitimate basketball school. The Ramblers have elevated our status to a new level, and this status will remain as long as we continue to perform well as a collective university.”
While many of Loyola’s student body and faculty are excited about the university’s newfound athletic success, others are concerned that Loyola’s infrastructure can’t support a tidal wave of new students.
Loyola senior Cami Santos, desk receptionist at the sophomore dorm Bellarmine, says, “I’ve watched what the growing class sizes have done to the housing situation already. Rooms that were initially meant for two students are being used for triples and quads, and res-life doesn’t seem to have the resources or accommodations to handle everyone living on campus.”
College basketball teams that do unexpectedly well in March Madness see up to 30% increases in enrollment the following year. In light of this, Loyola University Chicago President Jo Ann Rooney has promised to work with the school’s admissions office to lower academic class sizes for the next academic year. Santos says, “I don’t think she or anyone else is prepared for the influx of students interested in Loyola for the next year.”
Others think that a large number of incoming first year and transfer collegiates could benefit current students, especially when it comes to the cost of tuition. Junior Drew Paul, who plays on Loyola’s club basketball team, says, “I think the NCAA will increase the amount of applicants Loyola receives for this upcoming fall. Hopefully, this will decrease tuition or at least keep it the same for next year.”
According to Erin Moriarty, Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Loyola, the class of 2022 is estimated to be the largest class in the university’s history. She also says they’re the smartest – they have higher average GPA and ACT scores than the previous class. Moriatry believes this will increase the university’s overall ranking, making degrees from Loyola more valuable.
How do you feel about the university’s newfound fame? Leave a comment below.