The success of the U.B. men’s and women’s basketball teams is creating a bull market inside Alumni Arena. With the regular season wrapped up, and both teams preparing for the NCAA Tournament, athletic officials are crunching some numbers.
Since March 10th, data compiled by the school’s staff shows more than 1,500 stories have been posted online about the men’s team, reaching more than 2 billion people. Athletic Director Mark Alnutt calls that “tremendous”.
The big spike in coverage came last Thursday, the day the U.B. men played Akron in a MAC Tournament Quarterfinal matchup. That same day, coach Nate Oats signed a contract extension through 2023-24. The athletic department’s data shows more than 350 stories about the men’s team were posted online, reaching nearly 600 million people.
“Let it be about Buffalo for a change,” said women’s head coach Felisha Legette-Jack on Monday, after she found out her team would play against Rutgers in a first round matchup.
The men will open up their NCAA Tournament on Friday against either Arizona St. or St. John’s.
For the last few weeks, it has been all about Buffalo, as Legette-Jack has requested. Alnutt says proof is in the data.
“The excitement is out there,” Alnutt said.
It shows season ticket sales for the men’s and women’s team were up about 40 percent in 2018-19. Overall attendance rose past 100,000 for the season, up from 70,000 a year ago. Merchandise sales in the team store were up 50 percent. Alnutt says nationwide, more and more people are starting to read about U.B.
“What that does, not only for our program, but also for the university, it makes the university more visible,” he said. “People are noticing our brand a lot more. It’s not just inviting prospective student athletes, but also prospective students.”
John Della Contrada, a U.B. spokesperson, noted that the school has received a record number of applications over the past two years.
“But our admissions folks are reluctant to attribute it directly to athletic success without researching it first,” Della Contrada added.