- The Chronicle of Higher Education profiles the University of Maryland Baltimore County's improbable victory in the NCAA men's basketball tournament, which has helped a nation of attentive high school students and casual and rabid basketball fans discover the honors college's achievements beyond the hardwood.
- UMBC officials credit the near-instant global exposure on social media and the chance to promote their academic strengths after defeating the University of Virginia Cavaliers as the biggest benefits of the historic March Madness win.
- Cinderella stories have definitive benefits for winning schools. According to the Chronicle, first-year student applications at George Mason University jumped by 22% in 2006 following its run to the Final Four. "A Bloomberg analysis last year of other Cinderella stories offered more data to indicate short-term gains, at least, for the tournament’s underdog winners. Colleges that upset teams seeded at least 10 spots ahead of their own rank experienced a median student-application increase of 7% in the following fall, compared with the previous year, according to Bloomberg, which examined five years of tournament results," the story says.
The anecdotes outline why colleges and universities at all levels should invest in athletics; they serve as advertising mechanisms which far outpaces cost when teams win and earn national attention for the same. But it's important to consider that investing in revenue-bearing sports can also create tension, or potential trouble in gender-equity issues between men's and women's sports, which in today's climate can reverse positive traction gained by winning teams.
Hiring the right coach, recruiting high-caliber talent with personalities that match the culture of the institution are the keys to winning attention and keeping it after the lights go out on a big win. It doesn't hurt when schools can leverage faculty and community buy-in to sports culture in different ways, like the University of Kansas did recently in promoting a faculty-created statistical model for predicting Final Four winners.