Getting to the Final Four last year has, apparently, been good for the good folks at George Mason:
(GMU President Alan) Merten said there were 300 to 400 more freshmen enrolled at George Mason this fall. He said he anticipated an increase but wasn't prepared for the number, forcing the university to house students in a hotel.
..."We won't know until December [at the end of the calendar year] the financial figure [of the impact of the Final Four]," Merten said. "But there's a buzz. The faculty really feels it, too."
George Mason athletic director Tom O'Connor said merchandise sales are up, ticket sales are soaring and fund-raising is up, too.
"When you win, everybody smiles more," O'Connor said.
Early Wednesday, O'Connor noted that he was curious how many fans would turn out for that night's exhibition game against Division III Marymount (Va.). Well, the Patriots drew 3,679 fans (capacity in Patriot Center is 10,000) -- that's three times more than an exhibition a year ago and more than the team drew for seven home games last season. The Patriots had an estimated 6,000 for Midnight Madness on Oct. 13.
The ticket sales numbers and other athletic department what-nots seem reasonable, especially for a traditionally non-power school like GMU. I'm not an expert on the relationship between making making the Final Four and its short-term effect on academics, but it would be interesting to know how many of those "300 to 400" freshman saw making the Final Four as the marginal reason* for going to GMU.