Published March 17, 2016
The UB men’s and women’s basketball teams’ first-ever dual trips to the NCAA’s Big Dance are shining a bright spotlight on UB Athletics.
More than 3,500 stories were published in media worldwide in the three days following the teams’ dramatic conference championship wins on Saturday. Since then, more than 260,000 UB fans have shared in the excitement on the university’s official hashtag, #UBDancing.
This exposure will no doubt increase exponentially in the hours leading up to the teams’ appearance in the first round of the NCAA tournament today and Friday. A first-round win for either team against powerhouse opponents would launch the teams into the media stratosphere.
UB officials believe the teams’ successes and exposure also are raising national awareness about what makes UB a great university while stirring the passions of alumni, students, fans and the wider community.
“This is yet another exciting milestone as we continue to build a top-notch Division I intercollegiate athletics program at UB,” said President Satish K. Tripathi. “It is incredibly gratifying to see our women’s and men’s basketball teams get the well-earned opportunity to compete at the very highest level.”
“We’re just scratching the surface in terms of competitive success and we expect the progress to continue,” said Athletics Director Allen Greene. “The buzz around March Madness will help our basketball programs reach potential recruits in areas of the country that might not have otherwise had Buffalo on their radars.”
The teams’ appearances on the national stage the past two years — the men played in the NCAA tournament in 2015 for the first time in school history and the women earned an NIT bid — are having a positive effect on admissions as well. The national exposure is complementing the visibility generated by the work of UB’s undergraduate admissions team, said Lee Melvin, vice provost for enrollment management.
Applications from students seeking undergraduate admissions to UB are up 10.3 percent over this time last year and represent the highest number of applications to UB in the past five years, Melvin noted.
“This is an exciting time for our students, alumni and faculty,” he said. “We are experiencing success in all areas of UB, from increased visibility of innovative faculty research and student achievements, energetic alumni engagement and increased applications for admissions, to the success of our athletic programs — especially this month for our men’s and women’s basketball teams.”
Nancy L. Wells, vice president for philanthropy and alumni engagement, noted that the university’s successful student athletes not only represent a key strength for the university, but are also a powerful resource for New York State and beyond.
“This goes beyond building school spirit,” Wells said.
“Hiring organizations recognize that college athletes have unique leadership skills. At UB, we are very proud of our student-athletes. They are tomorrow’s leaders and tomorrow’s loyal UB alumni. Our alumni — 243,000 strong around the world — are incredibly excited about the success of our basketball teams: Go Bulls!”
Moreover, UB’s historic dual appearance in the NCAA tournaments will benefit the entire university.
“Athletics success increases internal and external awareness of the university,” said Nancy Paton, vice president for university communications. “The national recognition we’re receiving provides an opportunity for the university to tell stories about UB’s distinctiveness and advance our reputation on a national and even global scale.
“It’s not just the teams’ performances on the court that shines through in the stories we are telling. We’re leveraging this opportunity to tell a greater collective story about the university — about the characteristics of our student-athletes, about our strong alumni connections and about the university’s excellence on and off the court,” Paton said. “This strengthens UB’s reputation and will benefit all aspects of our university.”
Arun Lakshmanan, assistant professor of marketing in the School of Management, predicts the men’s and women’s basketball teams’ successes will have a positive impact on UB’s brand recognition in the long term.
“Sporting events are more broadly followed by the larger population, so any successes on the field — or on the court — tend to get a university noticed more,” said Lakshmanan. “Then there is the added benefit of people attributing greater stature and/or quality to an educational institution on account of its successes in the sporting arena.”