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Abilene Christian Nets Outrageous Payday with March Madness Upset

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Winning on the court is one thing at the NCAA basketball tournament.

But even when that doesn’t happen, as in the case of Abilene Christian University, winning all the way to the bank is a pretty good substitute.

Abilene Christian, which made its first NCAA tournament appearance in 2019, this year beat the University of Texas in its first matchup before losing to UCLA, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

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But the school remains a big winner, according to ACU president Phil Schubert.

“So far we are close to $120 million plus and we really haven’t had time to tally up the totals,” he said earlier this week.

Is this what a college sports program is all about?

The school’s 2019 appearance lasted only one game. The Abilene Christian Wildcats were clobbered by the University of Kentucky.

But even then, the school considered itself a winner, estimating that the exposure earned it $74 million.

“I hope people learn about ACU,” Wildcats basketball coach Joe Golding said. “It’s a special place.”

Schubert said that making the NCAA tournament reflects positively on a college.

“There are other places a university can make significant steps, but I’d say nothing compares to the level of visibility and market value that comes with men’s basketball, at least for us,” Schubert said.

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“There is no way we can afford the type of the kind of investment return we get here. It shows you what an incredible opportunity these situations bring.”

Schubert said one way ACU has benefitted is in the competition for students.

“It’s been subtle because the trend is college enrollment has been on a decline and we have bucked that trend,” Schubert said.

“Doing this has promoted a culture, but it signaled to our community, our faculty and our staff that we are capable of doing big things on a big stage. Not just basketball,” he said.

Are hoops and core courses connected? Schubert said so.

“It transcends into academics. It’s a shot across the bow that we do not ever settle for mediocrity. It gave us confidence,” he said.

Star-Telegram writer Mac Engel noted that Abilene Christian is not atypical, because “[a]ll of these small schools that sit on the fringe pray for the type of run ACU has put together since 2019.”

“Because these runs yield increased donations, increased applications and increased enrollment,” Engel continued.

“This is the only place where the inane financial logic of college athletics makes sense, and why schools all over the United States pour tens of millions into their respective football and men’s basketball programs.”

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Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.
Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.
Jack can be reached at jackwritings1@gmail.com.
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New York City
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Politics, Foreign Policy, Military & Defense Issues




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