On the latest Sporticast episode, hosts Scott Soshnick and Eben Novy-Williams speak with Saint Peter’s University athletic director Rachelle Paul about the men’s basketball team’s shocking run in the NCAA tournament. The Peacocks overcame 100-1 odds in beating Kentucky and Murray State, becoming just the third No. 1 seed to make it to the Sweet Sixteen.
Paul details all the ways in which the two wins, and the national media spotlight, are already helping the Jersey City school. She says the university has seen increased application interest, more interest from existing sponsors (including Adidas), new sponsors jumping on board to help with transportation to the Sweet Sixteen, T-shirt companies supplying new product, a Times Square billboard, commercials on CBS, and of course, more NIL opportunities for Peacocks players. The school website crashed last Thursday after the team upset Kentucky.
“You can’t put a price tag on it—it’s invaluable exposure that we are getting, nationally and globally,” Paul says. “People have actually come calling. And that’s very different for us at Saint Peter’s. We are usually the ones screaming at folks to pay attention to us.”
Another example: merchandise sales. Paul said the Saint Peter’s athletics website did $19,000 in sales in the six days after beating Kentucky (plus another $8,000 at the limited on-campus store). “I would go out on a limb and say, prior to Thursday, it could have taken us 10 months to a year, if not longer, to raise $19,000 in merchandise sales from our web store,” she said.
Paul also discusses the challenge of keeping head coach Shaheen Holloway, whose name is already being tossed around for jobs that would pay him a lot more than he makes at Saint Peter’s. Lastly, she talks about the broader changes happening across college sports, particularly with regard to the richest schools, and what that might mean for smaller universities like hers.
The Peacocks face Purdue on Friday.
(This story has corrected the name of St. Peter’s AD Rachelle Paul throughout.)