PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Back in 2016, the Villanova men’s basketball team received over 50,000 media hits throughout the NCAA tournament. The morning after their win, they landed the front page of two-hundred newspapers. It’s difficult to quantify that kind of coverage, but the University believes it would have cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
Fast forward to Monday night, when the Wildcats clinched their second championship in three years. Nova Nation went wild!
“It was like a fairy tale. I mean, it just doesn’t happen like that,” said James DiPietrantonio
of Wilmington, Delaware.
“It just re-energized the entire population,” added Theresa McCarthy of Media.
A small, but dedicated community transformed by athletic excellence. A university that set out to for a $600 million capital campaign that’s already hit $750 million. The new Pavillion alone raised $60 million.
“It’s just colossal, almost unmeasurable,” said Mike O’Neill, Senior Vice President of University Advancement.
He says the team’s success has inspired a special connection. And Monday’s win was further validation.
“Our alumni have really answered the call Father Peter sent out to them and they’re also backing a winner. They see the results both on and off the court,” said O’Neill.
Alumni involvement has spiked, but so has interest among prospective students.
Before the 2016 win, Villanova received just over 17,000 applications. By last fall, it had risen 30-percent to 22,000.
When asked how this win will impact the school’s trajectory, O’Neill didn’t hesitate.
“With this new strategic plan, you can be sure our next campaign will have a billion dollar number behind it,” he said.
Nova nation gives plenty of credit to the basketball program, but university officials say academics are also at play.
In 2017, Villanova was re-classified as a doctoral research university, which put them in the top 50 nationally ranked schools, according to US News and World Report.