The institutional impact of athletic success at UMD

 The national and international success of UMD athletics in recent weeks has convinced alumni to make donations to the university and its athletic programs. Photo by Krista Mathes.

The national and international success of UMD athletics in recent weeks has convinced alumni to make donations to the university and its athletic programs. Photo by Krista Mathes.

The recent journey to the national championship for the UMD men’s hockey team and the women’s hockey Olympic Gold Medal performances of Maddie Rooney and Sidney Morin have helped put UMD in the national spotlight. The “Flutie Effect,” named after former Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie after completing a successful Hail Mary pass against Miami in 1984, led to an increase in applications to Boston College the following year. This effect has been seen at many universities across the country following periods of athletic success.

UMD Athletic Director Josh Berlo pointed to the recent success around UMD sports and the national exposure the university has received as an opportunity to tell the story about the institution and the region.

“The attention that we’re getting now is a platform for us to tell the great stories of our institution, our strong academics, our wonderful student body and our great community, and we look to take advantage of that,” Berlo said.

After the UMD men’s hockey team won its first ever national championship in April, 2011, UMD only saw a slight increase of 77 students in total enrollment the following fall semester, according to UMD’s Office of Institutional Research. Even though enrollment has stayed at roughly 11,000 to 12,000 students from 2011 to 2017, UMD has still benefited from the national exposure of its championship-caliber athletes.

UMD Chief Development Officer Tricia Bunten said that the university now has a development officer for fundraising specifically for athletics, something that it did not have in 2011. According to Bunten, UMD now has the staff to follow up with alumni and season ticket holders to track donations made to UMD athletics.

“When you win a national championship, your hockey alumni are going to be feeling really good about their alma mater and their team and it’s a good opportunity for them to give back,” Bunten said. “Even last year, even though we didn’t win, we did some follow-up and saw some increase in some giving just from people who were proud of the Bulldogs for making it that far and playing well.”

Bunten said that Bulldog athletics has seen an increase in donations over the past few years, with phone calls from potential donors coming in just hours after the men’s hockey team’s national championship win over Notre Dame. While faculty, staff and non-alumni frequently donate to the university, most gifts in general come from UMD alumni.

“Anytime you have success, whether it’s athletics, something in research, a student getting a big reward, any of those kinds of things help alumni feel really good about their university, and when alumni feel good about their university, they’re more willing to contribute,” Bunten said.

SportsTyler Schendel