For smaller college basketball programs, a trip to the NCAA tournament can be valuable for a variety of reasons. Most importantly, the team gets to play at least one more game and they’ll be doing so in front of a television audience that surpasses any they’ve managed to reel in during the regular season. And with that exposure comes added financial benefits, especially if the team can get hot and extend its stay in the NCAA tournament.
That was the case for FGCU in 2013, as the Eagles knocked off both Georgetown and San Diego State with an attractive style of basketball that captivated the country. And according to the Naples Daily News, FGCU’s basketball program has reaped benefits not unlike those felt by programs such as Butler, VCU and Wichita State after they made their respective runs in the NCAA tournament in recent years.
FGCU’s athletic department saw its revenue increase by 28 percent from the 2013 fiscal year to the 2014 fiscal year, with revenue from ticket sales increasing by 34 percent and revenue from fundraising events increasing by an impressive 74 percent. During the 2013 fiscal year fundraising events netted FGCU nearly $286K, with that figure jumping up to nearly $497K in the 2014 fiscal year.
“I want to commend everyone who has played a part in establishing this important fundraising benchmark,” Director of Athletics Ken Kavanaugh said. “This certainly includes our coaches and student-athletes cultivating an environment for giving to all those other staff members who worked tirelessly throughout the year to produce these much-needed additional externally-generated resources which supplement the terrific annual support we receive from our FGCU students.
“In particular, I want to commend Butch Perchan, Graham Diener, Denise Da Silveira, and Chad Lutkenhaus for their leadership,” Kavanagh continued. “Likewise, we are extremely appreciative of the tremendous contributions that were made by Eagles Club Chairman Brian Rasnick and our fantastic volunteer Advisory Board. We now look forward to doing our best to surpass these record 2013-14 results.”
After falling one win short of their goal of returning to the NCAA tournament last season, falling to Mercer in the title game of the Atlantic Sun tournament, Joe Dooley’s Eagles will look to avoid a similar fate in 2014-15. Mercer’s now in the Southern Conference, removing one tough competitor from the equation, and with the backcourt of Brett Comer, Bernard Thompson and Jamail Jones back for one more run FGCU won’t lack for talent or experience.
FGCU will have to account for the loss of forwards Chase Fieler and Eric McKnight, with Filip Cvjeticanin being their most productive front court returnee.