Cinderellas, listen up. On the eve of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, which starts this week, officials from George Mason University have released a report describing the effect of their miraculous Final Four run two years ago.
What George Mason officials found is promising news for the next team hoping to wear the glass slipper. In 2006, the Patriots knocked off three superpowers—Michigan State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Connecticut—before finally falling in the national semifinals.
In the two years since, the university has seen a 22-percent jump in freshman applications and a 350-percent rise in admissions inquiries. While officials of the public institution in Northern Virginia cannot attribute the increases solely to that one magical season, they believe the tournament played a significant part.
“We were already on the rise,” said Robert E. Baker, an associate professor of sport management who studied the tournament’s effects. “This just pushed the fast-forward button.”
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