March Madness Daily: Loyola’s Rambling Flutie Effect

Daniel Libit
·2 min read

There’s little question that Loyola University’s men’s basketball team’s recent spells of spring success have had some positive institutional impact for the Chicago-based Jesuit university. After all, you presumably don’t trademark “Sister Jean” just for giggles.

After beating top-seeded Illinois last weekend, the Ramblers are again enjoying all the earned media attention that comes from being a Sweet 16 mid-major program.

But the ultimate downstream—or, if we deign to cliché, Flutie—effect of Loyola’s hardcourt upsets in March is a little murkier.

In 2018, 11th-seeded LU made national headlines when it beat higher-ranked Miami, Tennessee, Nevada and Kansas State to advance to its first Final Four since 1963, finally succumbing to Michigan.

The following academic year, Loyola saw its largest class in history and the greatest percentage increase of out-of-state freshmen in the past decade. Was this basketball-related?

“Loyola’s enrollment team has concurrently pursued the goal of increasing our out-of-state enrollments for quite some time and has implemented many initiatives to grow that segment of our enrollment,” said Anna Rozenich, the school’s director of communications.

However, the matriculation rate—the percentage of accepted students who ultimately chose to go to Loyola—showed only 0.2% improvement over the previous year. For 2018-19, there was a noticeable spike in freshman applications, but given that most schools’ applications are filed by early January—two months before LU went on its Cinderella run—it’s hard to determine a correlation.

Although the school does not publicly disclose its athletic-specific donations, it does report the university’s overall gifts and bequests. During FY2018, which ended June 30—just about three months after its Final Four appearance—the university’s philanthropic haul exceeded the previous fiscal year’s by $10.4 million (32%).

So did Loyola’s sweetheart run help attract students and donors? Perhaps. But it definitely didn’t hurt.

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