EDITORIAL: Final Four frenzy

As Scottie Reynolds sank the basket at the end of the game against Pitt, campus erupted. Students from all corners of campus – West, Main and South – spilled out of their buildings to celebrate that next step in this amazing season.

Students, faculty and staff are elated – and not just because of our basketball pride.

Think about it: when else have you ever seen campus so unified? Besides your first day of freshman orientation, you probably haven’t smiled at, cheered with, or hugged as many strangers as you have in the past few days. The basketball victories have brought us a bond that we won’t soon forget.

The success, too, has made Villanova nationally known. Wherever you look – whether it’s the New York Times or ESPN – Villanova is getting a lot of exposure. Our basketball prowess has helped our recognition and our number of applications increase over the past few years, and this year’s success should acccelerate the trend. The official deposit date for incoming freshmen, May 1, has yet to arrive, so we may even see an influx in class size this fall.

We’ll all have Dante, Scottie and the rest of the team to thank when our Villanova degree looks even more impressive to potential employers a few years down the road.

And, of course, the basketball program is great for fundraising. The endowment, which has taken a hit because of the country’s economic woes, stands to grow as alumni feel a renewed sense of pride in their alma mater.

That basketball pride, though? That doesn’t hurt us either. Reaching the Final Four is impressive for any school but even more so at a small, private school like Villanova. The NCAA tournament is dominated by big public schools (think your UConns, UNCs, etc.), but we’re right in the mix, too.

In fact, Villanova is ninth all-time in NCAA tournament appearances, with 30 total. We’re third among private schools, behind Duke’s 33 and Syracuse’s 32 appearances. And in the past 10 years, only six private schools have made appearances in the Final Four: Duke (’01, ’04), Syracuse (’03), Marquette (’03), Georgetown (’07) and, of course, our very own Wildcats this year.

With 6,425 undergraduates, our school popution is markedly smaller than the 17,00; 21,000 and 36,000 graduates at UNC, UConn and Michigan State respectively. Bigger schools boast more resources for the basketball programs.

The fact that we’re right up there in competition with those other schools this week testifies to the strength of our program and, especially, to the hard work of Jay Wright and his assistant coaches. Sports details generally belong on the sports pages, but this is such a big occasion for Villanova.

The basketball program is bringing Villanova pride that travels far beyond the court. Wright and the team have become strong ambassadors for our school, which gains national recognition each time our team advances.