Abilene Christian president claims March Madness upset was worth $120 million to school

Jack Baer
·Writer
·2 min read

Plenty were excited about Abilene Christian's upset of No. 3 seed Texas in the first round of March Madness, but none had more reason to celebrate than the people running the school.

That's because beating the state's most popular team in one of the biggest events in sports was apparently worth quite a bit to the school's bottom line. How much? Here's what the school's top decision-maker had to say.

From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

“So far we are close to $120 million plus and we really haven’t had time to tally up the totals,” ACU President Dr. Phil Schubert said in a phone interview from Indianapolis before his school played UCLA on Monday afternoon.

So one win means a nine-figure boon for a school. Just imagine if they had beaten No. 11 seed UCLA in the second round, rather than lose 67-47.

What's more, Abilene Christian reportedly estimated their only other trip to the NCAA tournament in 2019 had netted them $74 million, despite losing to Kentucky in the first round by a score of 79-44.

How did Abilene Christian supposedly make $120 million from March Madness?

You might be wondering how a school could reach such an, ahem, unbelievable figure. Schubert basically explained it as March Madness being the best possible way to market a small private Christian university in Abilene, Texas:

“There are other places a university can make significant steps, but I’d say nothing compares to the level of visibility and market value that comes with men’s basketball, at least for us,” Schubert said. “There is no way we can afford the type of the kind of investment return we get here. It shows you what an incredible opportunity these situations bring.”

Such an effect has been seen before with March Madness Cinderellas, such as the 27.5% spike in applications that Florida Gulf Coast University saw after its famous Dunk City run. A school being good at basketball shouldn't do much to affect the actual education students receive, but the basketball tournament is a pretty good way to announce your existent to high schoolers.

March Madness runs also usually lead to increased alumni donations, and there's always the actual NCAA payout that teams receive, though that's spread across the entire conference.

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