Yahoo! Sports (AABA) studied the financial impact of a low-major upsetting a top 3 seed in the NCAA tournament; using Lehigh (15 seed, beat Duke, ’12), Florida Gulf Coast (15 seed, beat Georgetown, ’13), Georgia State (14 seed, beat Baylor, ’15) and Middle Tennessee (15 seed, beat Michigan State, ’16) as subjects in their case study. Following historic wins, all 4 schools experienced an increase in freshman enrollment (+ 28.5% in applications, GSU), increased media exposure during the tournament ($346,000 worth, FGCU), a bump in merchandise sales (+ $500,000 YOY) and a flood of alumni donations (+ $454,000 YOY, Lehigh). Ultimately, Yahoo! Sports was unable to put a definitive value on a monumental upset (too many variables); but, they found that the figure was significant enough, that the schools have chosen to “reinvest millions in pursuit of another.”
Howie Long-Short: An increase in freshman enrollment is the most valuable of the benefits a Cinderella story receives. At Georgia State, Georgia residents pay just shy of $6,000/semester; while out of state students pay just over $15,000/semester. The school’s acceptance rate increased 17.4% in the fall of 2016, bringing the total number of students to 50,000. For the sake of round numbers, we’ll assume they added 7,500 students that fall. Even if they were all in-state students, the school is generating an extra $45 million/semester. No wonder school officials agreed to build the men’s basketball team a new training facility!
Fan Marino: Of course, the longer a team remains in the tournament, the more exposure its sneaker and apparel provider will receive. Nike (NKE) has the best chance to place a team in the Final Four, 70% of the 68 teams that were selected are sponsored by the company. Under Armour (11) and Adidas (9) also have a chance to reach San Antonio; Russell Athletic is going to need a miracle; their only squad in the dance is the Texas Southern Tigers. It must be noted Texas Southern won their play-in game over North Carolina Central 64-46.
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