Paladins’ win shines spotlight on Furman

March 28, 2023

When the Furman Paladins downed Virginia for the first upset of the 2023 NCAA Tournament, they raised the university’s profile to stratospheric heights, and suddenly everybody was talking about Furman.

Universities often feel a boost of limelight when they appear on the national stage for the first time, or the first time in a long time, like Furman, who hadn’t been to the tournament since 1980. It’s called the Flutie Effect, named for quarterback Doug Flutie whose hail Mary to the end zone lifted his Boston College team over the Miami Hurricanes in 1984. Universities report boosts in applications, donations and in their general reputation.

Just making the tournament was a boost. There’s all the pre-game hype and speculation about an “impressive” Furman team beating Virginia, and the game itself, watched by 905,000 people. But after the winning bucket by JP Pegues with 2.2 seconds left, people flocked to find out more about Furman.

“We couldn’t buy this level of publicity for the university,” said Tom Evelyn, vice president for University Communications. “As more people know about Furman – not just our basketball team, which is amazing, but what we stand for academically – we hope to also see increases in the number of students applying and people willing to support all our efforts.”

Admissions is also expecting a sustained increase in interest and applications. “The school spirit, campus support, community engagement and overall excitement for Furman will prove beneficial to enrollment metrics for the entering class of ’23 and beyond,” said Brad Pochard, associate vice president for enrollment.

We pulled some stats to share with you from our websites, social media and other communication platforms, comparing March 12-19 to the same week in 2022.

Website: Furman’s portal to the world was crucial to providing information.

  • Overall website traffic surged more than 415%; the homepage saw a 700% jump
  • Website traffic from social media grew over 1,200%
  • Atlanta, Chicago and New York were among the top five identified cities of origin
  • Web visitors were curious about our majors and minors, our history and more info on the “about” page; had a 3,256% spike
  • There were traffic increases of 359% and 319% respectively for the “apply” and “request more information” pages

Social media: Social media played a key role in celebrating the team, engaging with audiences and driving traffic to our websites.

  • The number of people who saw Furman social media grew 600%
  • TikTok views hit 200,000
  • Facebook reach hit almost half a million
  • Twitter reached 146,000, a 1,313% growth
  • The Athletics Facebook page saw an 800% increase in page visits, with the top post attracting 33,398 impressions
  • The Admissions Instagram page had 34% more visitors
  • Athletics Twitter saw a 726% increase in page visits and a 930% increase in mentions

News media: The news media couldn’t stop talking about Furman as a Cinderella story.

  • Mentions from the news media grew 15,700%, from 31 to more than 4,900
  • ABC’s Good Morning America, NBC’s Today Show, the CBS Evening News, The Associated Press, USA Today and other national outlets covered Furman’s win

Advertising and merchandise sales: Paid advertising reinforced all other activities and included a TV spot in New York.

  • Paid advertising impressions hit 580,147
  • We also saw a jump in sales of Furman gear. In the campus bookstore alone, sales increased almost 300%