TCU is 11-0 heading into its final regular season game this weekend against New Mexico. A win will give the school an automatic bid into a BCS bowl. We sat down with the school’s chancellor, Dr. Victor Boschini Jr., to discuss what effect the football team’s success has had on the school.
Darren: What is it like on campus these days?
Boschini: I’d say it’s a frenzy right now. It has just been a wonderful boost for everyone on campus and for all of our alums too.
Darren: Everyone talks about the “Doug Flutie Effect,” where applications to Boston College went up some 30 percent in the two years after Flutie led the school to a victory over Miami with that amazing Hail Mary pass. Schools like Gonzaga and George Mason have seen bumps more recently. What can you tell me about applications to TCU so far this year?
Boschini: As of last Friday, our applications were up 14 percent. But we’ve been experiencing that for about six or seven years now. Each year, they keep going higher and higher. Last year, we had over 12,000 applications for our 1,600 freshman slots and so I can’t help but think this is going to help us.
Darren: It was estimated that George Mason would have had to spend $50 million for the publicity it received for the couple weeks during March Madness. What has this football season been worth to TCU?
Boschini: We couldn’t afford, especially a school like us, to buy the publicity we’re getting from this football team and so it’s hard to put a price on that because we could never afford it anyway.
Darren: What does more applications lead to?
Boschini: I think the number one thing you get from more applications is more notice about your school across the country and that always helps. You get more buzz, you get more people talking about it. We already have bright kids on our campus and we already have a great faculty. We’ve got that already. What this allows us to do is spread that word among a greater group of people across the country. In the specific, if you have 20,000 people applying for 1,600 slots, of course you can craft your class a lot easier than if you only had 1,650 kids applying.
Darren: Is there a particular part of the country that is surprising as far as applications grow?
Boschini: California is our number one state for students outside of Texas. It was not like that four years ago. And I always call that the “LT Effect.” Because of LaDainian Tomlinson being out there in San Diego, people know about you and this has heightened. Last I checked, we were up some 50-some percent on applications from California. We’re up 30 percent in Illinois. Again, I think it’s a notoriety you don’t get any other way. It makes students take a look at you that might not look at you otherwise. They want a school with big time college athletics because to them that equates to a big time college atmosphere.
Darren: How has the TCU brand grown over the last couple years through sports?
Boschini: A big part of my job is traveling around the country and meeting with the alumni groups and our supporters and I can’t go anywhere now where people don’t mention it. In airports whenever you are wearing anything TCU – a hat, a pin, my ring even – people comment on it. So what it has done is it has raised the visibility of TCU in a way that we couldn’t have gotten in any other way.
Darren: How much does the school keep an eye on the athletic budget?
Boschini: Unlike a lot of bigger schools, our athletic department is a fully integrated part of the university. And so the funding comes from the university as well as from a lot of our donors. I’m a very cheap person so I take any penny we spend very seriously no matter what area it is. But we really have a goal of competing at the highest level academically and athletically and I think you can do that and do that with a clean team.
Darren: If TCU goes to a BCS game, the conference gets about $9 million and the school would probably wind up with $3 million of that. Have you done the calculations?
Boschini: Do I know how much we would get if we went? No. Because we’ve never gone before. You might not believe this, but I don’t really think about that a lot. I’m more into this for the experience we’re giving our students. Not only the students on the team, but the students back on the campus. Because I don’t think you can put a price tag on that. So yes, if we go to a BCS bowl, I’m sure we’ll make more money than if we had not gone to a BCS bowl. But I’m not sitting in my office with CFO counting that money and counting on it. Because I think it means bigger things to us that just the money.
Darren: According to Equity in Athletics filings, TCU’s athletic budget was about $46 million last year. How much more do you see the school investing in the athletics budget?
Boschini: We don’t need to invest more in athletics to produce results because we’re showing we’re already doing that. We’ve already invested a pretty good amount in athletics and in a lot of other areas in our campus too and we’re looking at all of it as a balancing act. But I think we’ve gotten great results with what we’ve invested so far.
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