The below post is the second part of this article. It starts by examining benefits enjoyed by programs advancing deep into the NCAA Tourney:
Schools that advance in the NCAA tournament do tend to become richer. George Mason University, a public school of more than 30,000 students based in Fairfax County, Virginia, had never won a tournament game before 2006.
But that March, it broke into the Final Four — and into the black. The school’s fundraising rose from $19.6 million to $23.5 million, and George Mason merchandise led bookstore sales to $800,000 in March 2006 alone. (Sales the previous year totaled $625,000.) A study cited in Street and Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal estimates that print, internet, and game coverage — twenty-three hours of national television broadcast exposure — was converted into $677,474,659 worth of media exposure for George Mason.
UAPB didn’t go as deep into the tournament as George Mason, doesn’t have the same-sized network (it has more than 3,800 students and 1,400 paying members of its national alumni association), and is in a far poorer part of the country. (Devonshire Associates, Ltd. and Scan/U.S., Inc. estimated Pine Bluff’s 2009 median household income as $31,356.The U.S. Census Bureau pegged that stat in Fairfax County, Virginia, as $107,075 circa 2008.) Partly because vendors didn’t have time to market Golden Lion gear at tournament sites, there was “very little effect” in UAPB merchandise sales following the NCAAs, says John Kuykendall, UAPB’s director of alumni affairs and government relations.
The school didn’t see an influx of donations in the months after the tournament, either.
Margaret Martin-Hall, director of UABP’s office of university relations and development, says annual contributions have held steady between $1.7 million and $1.8 million for the last three or four years. However, she adds, she was pleased that donations didn’t decrease considering the recession. “Our money comes in thousands and hundreds, and some other places they come in millions,” Davis says. “Our people give what they are able to give.”
Still, the basketball program has seen tangible benefits. The school’s NCAA tournament ticket sales totaled $3,075, interim athletic director Willie Fulton writes in an e-mail. The conference distributed about $99,745 to UAPB as its cut of TV revenue, making the NCAA Tournament, and winning the SWAC championship. In the fall, a group of some 120 UAPB lettermen raised $10,000 for new equipment — including free weights, two stair steppers, and stationary bikes. Other amenities for the basketball team have included a new scoreboard and new practice gear. The tournament appearance also helps lure recruits.
Daniel Broughton didn’t have to go far. Before last spring, the Pine Bluff native, one of the team’s four freshmen, was considering his hometown school, the University of Central Arkansas, Southeastern Missouri, Drake University, and Murray State. Watching UAPB’s
first game of March Madness with fellow recruit Marcel Mosley of Marion turned him into a Golden Lion. “As they played Winthrop, me and Marcel were on the phone talking to each other and we were like ‘Well, we could both be going to that school’ … so we ended up signing.” Broughton says that 61-44 victory helped convince Keith Ross, his Watson Chapel High School
teammate, to sign with UAPB, too.
UAPB’s men’s basketball team had a twenty-nine percent graduation rate in 2009, according to NCAA records. That rate includes student-athletes who complete degree programs and receive diplomas within six years of enrollment as well as those who transfer to another school or turn professional while in good academic standing. That statistic was released nine days after UAPB’s loss to Duke in an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article which also highlighted UAPB’s failure to reach an academic progress rate of 925. That standard calculates a team’s eligibility based on players returning and maintaining good academic standing. UAPB scored 907, and failure to meet 925 for two consecutive years could result in a lost scholarship. After three years, the school may be banned from preseason and postseason play.