Could the Badgers Final Four appearance increase admissions?

CREATED Apr 2, 2014

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MADISON -- Just when Madison High School senior Samara Lerner thought she had her top college choices nailed down, she's now having second thoughts.

"I've been looking at [University of] Minnesota-Duluth and Whitewater as my top two choices," she said.

The "Final Four Frenzy" is not only catching up with her, but perhaps shifting the course of her life.

"I thought it'd be really fun to transfer back to UW to be near my family and be in the sports area I love," Lerner said.

Vice Chancellor for University Relations Vince Sweeney expects the Final Four to change the minds of thousands of prospective students.

"This is really important in that athletics is serving as a gateway into the institution, entry into 'let's look at Wisconsin, why not Wisconsin?'" he said. "I would just guess, this will have a positive impact on the number of kids who will apply to Wisconsin."

Images of students on campus or at sporting events are hard to turn away from, even if they have nothing to do with academics.

"I think it'd be really fun to storm State Street like the rest of the students have been doing," Lerner said. "

Last Saturday's basketball game was the highest viewed college basketball game on cable TV ever, according to Sweeney.

"Almost 10 million people watched that game. That's a lot of exposure," Sweeney said. "It was a great thing for the athletic program and our basketball team, but it was also a great thing for this university."

University leaders also expect donor and alumni relations to strengthen.