On Sunday, The Blade will publish a modified version of the letter below. They had to shorten it for space issues, but I thought the campus might like to read my full response to Thursday’s article about our run in the WNIT Tournament.
The University of Toledo women’s basketball team has had nothing short of an outstanding season. It is a tribute to the excellent coaching of Tricia Cullop, her staff and team of dedicated young women that they have moved the Lady Rockets into the elite eight of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT). Their success has been felt across our campuses and community in the pride we share while watching them demonstrate teamwork, sportsmanship and tremendous talent.
It is this value that one cannot place a dollar figure on that is missing from Zach Silka’s March 24 story “A Losing Gain.” If one chooses to look exclusively at the costs of hosting such an event versus ticket revenue, they are only seeing part of the equation. The university estimates that after concession sales and in anticipation of another outstanding crowd for this Sunday afternoon’s game are added into the profit and loss statements, hosting the event will be, at worst, cost neutral.
However, this does not include real savings achieved by playing at home and not having to travel to an opponent’s arena. But more importantly, it does not account for the reputational benefits of frequent and positive media attention from local, regional and national media. To say this coverage is worth tens-of-thousands-of-dollars would be a fair, if not low, estimate. In fact, as one considers all the factors, it becomes rapidly clear that the value of making a run in the WNIT is significant in terms of dollars and reputation.
College athletics have an enormous impact of the well being of a university. It is well documented that before the famous Doug Flutie pass against Miami, Boston College was considered a hometown commuter school that was light-years away from the football folklore of a Notre Dame. If it were not for basketball, would we really be familiar with institutions like Gonzaga or Butler? These are examples of the power of athletics in a university environment.
In addition, athletics is certainly a wonderful opportunity to present the “front door” to a university. As with any front door, it is what is inside that really matters and leaves the lasting impression. Many times, athletics is the first opportunity for us to visit a college campus, and at UT we are thrilled to have the opportunity to welcome the world to our campus.
President Lloyd Jacobs, Mike O’Brien, Kelly Andrews, Coach Cullop, the team and UT Athletics staff should be commended for their efforts and for giving our community a chance to see these games first-hand. The civic and university pride it has brought out is truly priceless. It has been incredible. I have attended the games and the buzz has been electric.
Lawrence J. Burns
Vice President for External Affairs and Interim Vice President for Equity and Diversity
The University of Toledo