Sports

Clock strikes midnight on UMBC Retrievers, but they still made out like bandits

Combined Shape

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County saw its run in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament end Sunday, 48 hours after the school made tournament history by becoming the first No. 16 seed to ever defeat a No. 1 seed.

While the Retrievers came up short in a 50-43 loss to No. 9 Kansas State, the school will likely cash in on the team’s historic victory for months, and perhaps years, to come.

Apex Marketing Group, a branding consultant firm, estimated the value in advertising of UMBC’s sudden national exposure in television, print and internet impressions to be in the range of $33 million.

Meanwhile, media intelligence firm Meltwater put the value closer to $119 million.

From the end of the game Friday to Sunday morning, the UMBC bookstore received about 3,500 online orders for school merchandise — almost as many as the total for the entire previous year.

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UMBC President Freeman A. Hrabowski III told The Baltimore Sun the school’s historic victory will shine a light on what the school can offer academically.

“What this amazing history-making event has done is have the whole world saying, ‘Who is this young campus?’” Hrabowski said, adding that he wants people to know the same kind of grit and determination shown by the basketball team in Friday’s upset of Virginia are “exactly what we have on the academic side.”

Academically, UMBC is known for its programs in sciences and engineering. In December, the school celebrated its first Rhodes scholar.

Were you rooting for UMBC to make the Sweet 16?

“Few people know that we were last year’s cybersecurity champions,” Hrabowski said. “We’re a nerdy campus.”

The school has also won six national championships in chess since 2003 and has qualified for the chess Final Four a record 15 times.

Going forward, the win will help the school’s athletic department in a variety of ways. For starters, UMBC hopes the increased awareness of its basketball team will help it land a corporate naming rights partner for its new $85 million arena.

“This may help push the naming rights for the new venue,” said Eric Smallwood, a managing partner with the Apex Marketing Group. “The timing is perfect.”

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The win will also likely help UMBC renew its apparel contract with Under Armour.

“Every game they play, it gets more value for Under Armour,” Smallwood said.

The JohnWallStreet.com blog, which covers sports and finance, says the true value of the victory will be realized in the fall of 2019, when freshman enrollment is expected to swell.

The blog points out other small universities that have scored big upsets in the NCAA tournament have seen double-digit increases in enrollment the following year. It cites Middle Tennessee State and a 17 percent enrollment bump in the fall of 2017 after the school’s upset of No. 2-seeded Michigan State in the 2016 tournament, and a 43 percent increase to enrollment at Butler after the school made the 2010 Final Four.

A 17 percent increase at UMBC would equate to an additional $3.5 million per year in tuition payments, the blog reports.

The question surrounding the UMBC basketball program next season is who will be its coach. Head coach Ryan Odom just finished the second year of a seven-year deal that pays him $230,000 per season, a fraction of what he could make if he is offered a job at a Power 5 conference school.

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Scott Kelnhofer is a writer for The Western Journal and Conservative Tribune. A native of Milwaukee, he currently resides in Phoenix.
Scott Kelnhofer is a writer for The Western Journal and Conservative Tribune. He has more than 20 years of experience in print and broadcast journalism. A native of Milwaukee, he has resided in Phoenix since 2012.
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