Business Behind Saint Peter’s $175M NCAA Tournament Run

George Mason in 2006.

Florida Gulf Coast in 2013.

Loyola Chicago in 2018.

Oral Roberts in 2021.

And St. Peter’s in 2022.

saint peter's march madness run

There’s nothing quite like a cinderella run in the NCAA Men’s March Madness Tournament.

And it’s big business for the schools involved.

But what does it look like 1 month later for St. Peter’s?

Hint: really good!

Cash is Flocking to St. Peter’s

Like most people, I had never even heard of St. Peter’s University before their NCAA tournament run.

But now everybody is familiar with the tiny school in Jersey City (and will for a long time).

Check this out:

A year before Saint Peter’s historic NCAA run, the university received 149 donations totaling a little under $500,000.

From March 9-26th, as the Peacocks advanced through the tournament, the school received 414 gifts totaling over $2.3 million.

St. Peter’s (student body: 2,600) won over fans nationally beating Kentucky (student body: 30,500), then Murray State (student body: 9,500) and finally Purdue (student body: 50,000), before falling to North Carolina.

All while on a budget in the bottom 5% of the entire NCAA.

I broke these numbers down in a previous thread 👇

More Eyeballs = More Money For St. Peter’s

St. Peter’s University reported more than $300,000 in merchandise sales just two weeks after the Peacocks upset Kentucky.

But here’s what’s wild…

In the first eight months of the fiscal year, which started in July of 2021, the school reported just over $58,000 in sales.

So in 2 weeks, they made nearly 6x what they make in a year.

And sales were booming on the campus as well.

The university totaled $47,000 in sales from March 17-24. Over $15,000 in apparel was sold on March 24, the day before the Elite 8 game vs. Purdue.

st peter's apparel sales

Here’s some interesting perspective…

From September to December, $20,000 in apparel sales took place on St. Peter’s campus. They nearly did that in one day during March Madness.

And it gets even better:

During the week of March 12th, search terms for Saint Peter’s on Amazon were comparable to the biggest college football teams in the run-up to their seasons (think Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame, etc).

In the two days following their upset of Kentucky, Saint Peter’s was the top selling institution on Amazon, with over $40,000 in sales reported by sports merchandise retailer Trevco.

There’s also this thing called “media attention” and St. Peter’s received a lot of it.

It’s estimated that they university received between $125m and $150m in “free media” during their tournament run.

But what about enrollment, NIL, and future implications?

The Benefits Will Last For Years

St. Peter’s athletic director Eugene Cornacchia recently said that an alumni reception in Bergen, NJ drew more than 70 people — it would typically get around 25.

It’s anticipated that applications and enrollment will increase as well, but won’t become clear until next year. The school’s international graduate business program has already attracted additional interest from Japan, Italy and India according to Cornacchia.

For reference:

Florida Gulf Coast University in 2014 saw the number of university applications increase by 27.4 percent year over year — the first full admissions cycle following the men’s basketball program’s Sweet 16 run in 2013.

Ever since, the FGCU’s number of applicants has more or less maintained an annual level of between 13,500 and 15,500 applicants, whereas that number just barely cracked 10,000 prior to its March Madness run.

fgcu admissions after march madness run

I don’t anticipate Saint Peter’s to have as drastic of an increase, but there will certainly be a bump up.

Winning Has Side-Effects

Despite all the wins, there have been some setbacks though.

Head basketball coach Shaheen Holloway left the school a day after the Peacocks lost to North Carolina for a reported $2M/yr.

Holloway took the head coaching job at Seton Hall, a Big East Conference school where he played his college ball.

Following the announcement, nearly half of St. Peter’s men’s basketball players entered the transfer portal.

This included Doug Edert, who gained a lot of media attention for his mustache and 3 point shooting during the tournament run.

Doug made over $10,000 in NIL money and is transferring to Bryant University.

All in all, making a run during the March Madness tournament equates to big business for the school.

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