In case there wasn't already plenty of incentive for schools from non-BCS leagues to invest in basketball, a release Butler put out on Tuesday surely reminded university presidents of the potential financial windfall.
A study commissioned by the Butler athletic department found that the Bulldogs' run to the 2011 national title game generated an estimated $512 million in publicity for the school thanks to TV, print and online news. Add that to the $447 million the university estimates the 2010 title game appearance to be worth, and that's nearly $1 billion in publicity that Butler basketball has generated in a mere two seasons.
"This study is an indication of a very significant amount of publicity that Butler has received through our athletics program," Butler athletic director Barry Collier said. "The story of our athletes and their accomplishments in the classroom, as well as on the court, exemplifies the true meaning of student-athlete. And that story has been carried to a much larger audience, thanks to the success of the Butler basketball team."
Indianapolis-based communications agency Borshoff conducted the study for Butler by monitoring media coverage of Bulldogs basketball from mid-March to mid-June. Granted the numbers they unearthed do seem unusually high, but there's no denying that a deep NCAA tournament run can have a huge impact for a smaller school that doesn't typically generate that level of publicity from its athletics program.
Butler reported a 41 percent rise in admissions applications and a 35 percent rise in visits in the year after its first national title game appearance. Visits to the VCU undergraduate admissions site nearly tripled the Sunday the Rams beat Kansas last March to advance to their first-ever Final Four. Heck, even Belmont points to its one-point first-round NCAA tournament loss to Duke in 2008 as the biggest reason the school received more than 3,000 applications for fall enrollment that year.
Butler coach Brad Stevens received an undisclosed raise when he signed a contract extension through the 2021-22 season last year. Whatever his new deal pays him, he's worth every penny.