All Eyes on Loyola: Team’s Success Means Slam Dunk for University

By Magazine Staff
Etherly dunks

A team stepping onto the stage in one of the nation’s most prominent athletic competitions translates to far-reaching attention for a university. The year after George Mason’s 2006 Final Four appearance, the school’s out-of-state applications grew by 54 percent. Loyola’s NCAA appearance—even without a win—moved the University into the spotlight.

“Between the media coverage and the social media engagement, the Loyola story was being told on a national—and international—scale,” said Marc Camille, Ed.D., vice president for enrollment management and communications. “For recruiting students, attracting excellent faculty, and providing a rallying point for pride among Loyola’s alumni and friends, you can’t underestimate the significance of a story like this one.”

Trustee Brad Bennett, ′87, doesn’t want men’s basketball to overshadow Loyola’s academic strengths, but rather bring increased attention to Loyola, advancing the University’s brand and introducing people to Loyola through the prominent tournament. “There is strong evidence that consistent appearances in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament positively impact a university’s brand,” Bennett said. “In my opinion, Loyola needs to use this momentum to help make an NCAA tournament bid a more frequent occurrence.”

After the team clinched a tournament berth, Head Coach Jimmy Patsos and the men’s basketball team were the focus of more than 70 feature stories in a dozen states. Newspapers ran individual profiles of four starters, while Baltimore television cameras were a mainstay on the Evergreen campus. The “Let’s Dance!” NCAA Tournament page on Loyola’s website was visited more than 4,600 times by people in 23 countries, and thousands of fans voiced their support for the Hounds on Loyola’s Facebook page.

Just being in the NCAA Tournament gives Loyola the chance to build its national brand, said Marco Gentile, ′02, MBA ′06, an affiliate professor of sports marketing at Loyola and director of corporate partnership sales at the Washington Capitals/Wizards/Verizon Center.

“You’re getting exposure that many schools or brands would die for,” he said.

Just being one of the teams competing in the NCAA Tournament yields approximately a 1 percent increase in applications the following year, according to research published by Virginia Polytechnic Institute professors Devin and Jaren Pope.

But the University could see an impact on undergraduate admissions even sooner. “I really believe you’ll see an uptick as high school seniors are making a decision as to what university they want to attend, and Loyola will be in their minds,” Gentile said.

That’s music to Camille’s ears. “As much as I would have loved to see Loyola win a game or two in the tournament,” he said, “knowing there may be a whole new group of Greyhounds fans eager to be part of the Class of 2016 is pretty sweet.”

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