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KPBS Evening Edition

Success In March Madness Raises SDSU's Profile

Steve Fisher's San Diego State Aztecs are in the NCAA tournament for the fifth straight year.
SDSU Athletics
Steve Fisher's San Diego State Aztecs are in the NCAA tournament for the fifth straight year.

With the eyes of the nation currently focused on college basketball's NCAA tournament, KPBS Evening Edition anchor Dwane Brown wondered what impact sending teams to the "Big Dance" has on universities.

The San Diego State Aztecs are one of 16 teams still competing for bragging rights out of an original field of 64 teams. Brown spoke to George Belch, professor and chair of SDSU's marketing department.

San Diego Aztecs face Arizona Wildcats Thursday, March 27 in Anaheim at 7:17 p.m.

Brown: What is the publicity impact on the universities that send teams to the NCAA tournament?


Belch: It's more than just the 64. You start out the season with more than 300 Division I teams and you keep filtering it down to, of course, the 64 or 68 who get into the NCAA tournament who really get under the spotlight. What really is interesting is the ability to keep winning. We've gone to the "Sweet 16" now, we've done this for the second time, but this is where you really start to get a lot of attention.

Brown: We're outside of Viejas Arena (on the SDSU campus), where the second and third round games were played last week with teams from out of town. What kind of an impact did that have on San Diego?

Belch: I think the fact that we hosted some of the regional games here even added to the impact of what's going on with the excitement around the Aztecs. …You know after the Aztec games were over, "Wow, lets go see what our next opponent's going to do," and it's even more interesting to look down and say, "Wow, that's our arena where they are playing."

Brown: Does excellence on the court extend to other sectors of the university?

Belch: It can increase engagement with alumni and alumni giving goes up. It leads to merchandise sales. Obviously there's the revenue that comes from winning. Every round you go, you make more money and now those funds get shared with the conference, but you have to look at what it does overall. It raises the stature of the university overall. It's great to have a great academic program ... and sports program that comes along with that.