By Kate Siegfried and Jill McCarter
Butler University is still reaping the benefits from last year’s run in the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament and is looking forward to receiving the numbers for this year.
Results from a study completed by media firms Borshoff and Meltwater show that the university earned more than $639 million in publicity value during last year’s tournament.
The numbers reflect publicity received through online, broadcast and print media.
About one-sixth of that value came from the National Championship game alone.
“This money is not just given to the university,” Athletic Director Barry Collier said. “The basketball team had to earn it for us.”
And while the value isn’t tangible, Collier said there are many advantages to having that amount of exposure.
Increases in ticket sales, licensing fees, bookstore sales, donations and applications can be, in part, attributed to the exposure received from last year’s tournament.
Charitable giving and donations to the athletic department have reached an all-time high and continue to increase.
Vice President for University Advancement Mark Helmus has overseen successful athletic-themed fundraising campaigns in the past two years during and following the tournament. Last year’s campaign set a record for alumni donations, raising more than $100,000.
Helmus is currently planning a similar campaign for this year, and said he expects similar results.
“You can’t tie it all to the tournament,” Helmus said. “But I do think this type of thing really increases the feel-good attitude of alumni and increases their pride in the university.”
The increases in donations were primarily from individuals, while corporate giving didn’t necessarily reflect the increased exposure.
Current students are already seeing the effects from last year, Helmus said. Money has gone towards the university’s general operating fund, which funds everything from student life activities, to classroom materials, to building and renovation costs.
“Very rarely in fundraising do you really see a home run,” Helmus said. “Last year, we really raised the bar on our expectations, so we’re hoping for two in a row.”
Butler isn’t the only school feeling the effects of the tournament.
All Horizon League schools receive money from Butler’s Final Four trip. Associate Athletic Director for Operations Tom Crowley said that the league splits the money received from the NCAA evenly among all 10 members.
Because last year’s study was completed after the tournament, Collier said some things could have been missed in the numbers. To get a more accurate value, this year’s study was conducted in real time.
Numbers should be released in the coming months.