Wednesday, March 16, 2011

News and Notes: Early Evening Edition

Cornell alum, Andre Luria is covering Princeton's first round NCAA Tournament game in Tampa for ABC News-Tampa. Below, some news and notes...
  • Madison.com writes, "Last year, the University of Wisconsin men's basketball team was eliminated during the second round of the NCAA Tournament by a Cornell team that got off to a great start and never looked back."
  • The Rockford Register Star writes, "I don’t know a single true basketball fan who picks ... conservatively. That’s the fun of filling out a bracket, trying to find an underdog. You can’t blame even a basketball lifer for not forseeing No. 5 seed Butler as the NCAA runner-up last year, or for failing to predict one of last year’s Sweet 16 surprises (No. 12 seed Cornell, No. 11 Washington, No. 10 St. Mary’s, No. 9 Northern Iowa, No. 6 Xavier or No. 6 Tennessee)."
  • Temple's Owlfield blog told the Penn State blog, Black Shoe Diaries with respect to Fran Dunphy's NCAA Tournament record, "No offense to the [Penn] Quakers, but in my opinion it's very unlikely that the Ivy League is making it through round one. Since Coach Dunphy arrived at Temple, we've had some extremely tough draws. We played against a Michigan State team back in 2008 that went to the Sweet 16, an Arizona State squad in 2009 that was a difficult game, and a "Cinderella" Cornell squad that knocked off us and #4 Wisconsin to get to the Sweet 16."
  • MarquetteMixx.com writes, "A Cinderella team is one that that does unexpectedly well in the tournament, they outplay, outwork, and beat other teams. Cinderella did not naturally put herself in the position to attain the kings affection, she needed magical help from her fairy godmother. If I was the 2008 George Mason team or last years’ Cornell, I wouldn’t care for the help of a mystical figure once portrayed by Whitney Houston; a godmother didn’t get me to the ball; hard work and defense did."
  • A writer for the Prince Arthur Herald notes, "I rode Cornell to the Final Four in last year’s tournament and their run ended against Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen. Therefore, I am going with Kentucky to beat the Ivy League again and banning myself from picking an Ivy League team to get out of the first round for the next five years."
College athletics is big business. Football and both men’s and women’s basketball bring in money for the NCAA, athletic conferences, and schools year after year with their lucrative broadcast contracts. Now that it is time for NCAA March Madness, schools will be looking to cash in on their opportunities. Of course just making the tournament can benefit a school, but how much does the Cinderella team making a deep run in the tournament really benefit financially?Cornell Athletics saw a financial impact after their 2010 Sweet Sixteen run in the NCAA tournament, citing three areas of increase. The first was in alumni donations and gifts. After setting a record for donations to the athletic department in 2009, the Big Red beat that record in 2010. The second area of increase was in ticket sales. More students and more college basketball fans in general were attending Cornell basketball games in 2010 because they were seen as a legitimate contender. The final area that felt the financial impact of the 2010 NCAA tournament appearance was merchandise (cornellsun.com). The better the team performed, the more people wanted to be associated with the Cornell Big Red athletic brand. Cornell is no longer seen as solely an academic Ivy League school, it is now seen also as a contender in almost all Ivy League sports.Who could forget about little-known George Mason University and their 2006 Final Four run? Sure the run was magical, but how did it benefit the school as a whole? The year after their Final Four appearance, the George Mason Patriots saw a 20% increase in applications and the number of prospective student campus tours has almost tripled. The school also recorded increases in alumni relations. Registered alumni increased by over 50% and a 25% increase in active alumni. Perhaps the biggest impact was on fundraising. George Mason received almost $4 million more in gifts in 2007 and donations specifically for the athletic department went up 25% (eagle.gmu.edu). George Mason is the modern day Cinderella story and clear proof that a magical Final Four run in the NCAA tournament can produce big money for the school in general and not just the athletic department. With the tournament field set for the 2011 NCAA tournament and games set to kick off on Tuesday, there looks to be a few promising underdog teams. It will be interesting to see if a team can make a Cornell or George Mason type run and feel the same kind of school-wide financial impact.

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