The March 31 headline in the New York Times sports section read: No. 3 Texas Tech Upsets No. 1 Gonzaga for First Trip to Final Four. The paper has 4.3 million subscribers for digital and print editions. Tech president Lawrence Schovanec recognized the value of that story immediately.
“I made the comment: what is that worth? It’s priceless,” he says.
Numbers from the Lubbock Economic Development Alliance show that for digital media mentions of Texas Tech and Lubbock between Selection Sunday March 17, and April 10, two days after the Red Raiders loss to Virginia, brought just shy of $54 million in advertising equivalency. Meltwater, a media monitoring company, reported ad value equivalency of $379 million.
“Let’s all agree that regardless of the specific amount, it was publicity that through the normal channels of marketing would almost be impossible to reproduce. And as I have said in other comments, after we beat Gonzaga, my sister who lives in Pasadena—and she was there for the game—I think she saw her brother in a whole new light. I don’t know what she thought I did for a living but she could see this is a big business.”
Schovanec, who noted that reports exaggerated the volume of calls from people seeking admission information or applications, says he’s sure alumni donations to the university will climb.
“We’ve already seen some alumni step up. But also there were very significant potential supporters who reached out to us—hey you have tickets? We were delighted to accommodate them. I met some people during the course of the tournament that I had never seen before and I believe their interest in the university is 100 percent genuine and much broader than athletics…but who wouldn’t want to be a part of that excitement?”
It was a remarkable season for a team that was picked to finish seventh in the Big 12 when the season began last fall. The Red Raiders also helped break Kansas' 14-year conference regular season title winning streak by sharing it with Kansas State.
Schovanec says he’s confident that coach Chris Beard will continue to bring renown to the university and the city going forward.
“What it has shown is that Texas Tech can compete at the highest level. This might be a bit odd, but I think more than showing the kind of four-star players you can get in, it has shown us that Chris can win with whoever he has. They have to be student athletes that buy into his work ethic, they have to be coachable. They have to understand the concept of a team,” Schovanec says.
Beard was selected National Coach of the Year by The Associated Press and recently got a new six-year contract totaling nearly $27.5 million to become one of the nation’s highest paid college coaches. Schovanec says Beard isn’t in coaching for the money.
“He obsessed with winning a national championship. To him it’s about competing and winning at the highest level and people recognize that. They love the way he does it. They love the class, with which he and the players conducted themselves. That’s worth a lot,” he says.
Schovanec has been at Tech since 1982, so has seen many of the university’s highs, both academic and athletic. At a recent conference in Austin he heard a lot of positive feedback on the Red Raiders hoops accomplishments.
“In some ways, it was similar to the reaction I sensed in China last year when we went there and I had not been there for two years, and in that time they were now aware that we were a Carnegie Tier One school, they treated us differently.”
He points to great outcomes in numerous sports in recent years, like the baseball and track and field teams. But many people who hold a myopic view, he says, forget the Lady Raiders.
“If you think back to 1993, when we won the national championship, that was pretty special.”