The Ferris men’s basketball program made history in almost every way possible this season but the effects of the national attention extends farther than just athletics.
The media attention gained when the team advanced to the Elite Eight and took the trip to Sioux Falls, South Dakota was massive, let alone when they won the championship game Saturday, March 24. CBS broadcasted the national title game and according to Ferris President David Eisler, the viewership was huge.
“Here’s a team today that’s playing for the national championship and it’s on major network television,” Eisler said. “The television people estimate that 2.5 million people will see our team and our university today, so this is a really special, important moment for our school.”
Social media blew up during and after the game, with some big names congratulating the new national champions on Twitter, from the GLIAC account to the official Detroit Tigers account.
“It’s the first one in school history in any sport, so it’s a huge deal not only for the basketball program but all of Ferris athletics and putting Big Rapids on the map,” Ferris junior forward Abby Nakfoor said.
For former women’s basketball player (1983-87) and Ferris Hall of Famer Karen Trierweiler, the game was a proud moment.
“I’ve always been proud of Ferris, you know, I’ve always been proud to be an alumnus but I actually watched them for the first time on TV,” Trierweiler said. “It was amazing, we were screaming, hollering—it was a pretty good day to be a Bulldog.”
Trierweiler said she believes that along with putting Ferris on the map, the national title will make Ferris alumni more supportive and prideful of their school.
“The support of our alumni and our community is just absolutely amazing. The number of emails, the tweets, the posts—people are having watch parties all across the country watching Ferris,” Eisler said. “This all elevates our university. People see our university, they see the excellence of our university, it’s a great thing for Ferris and it’s a great day to be a Bulldog.”
With enrollment on a downward trend the past five years—from 14,707 students in 2013 to 13,798 last fall, according to the Ferris Fact Book—the title brings somewhat of a hope to reverse the tide.
“I definitely think it will help with recruiting and enrollment,” Nakfoor said. “Everyone loves winning and everyone wants to be a winner; the men’s basketball team has always been successful but this team has gone above and beyond for the reputation of our school.”
Ferris pre-pharmacy sophomore Jake Kangas said that after winning the national title, people—specifically the CBS announcer who said Ferris was from Grand Rapids—might now know where Big Rapids is.
“The attention will show the people who assumed you were talking about Grand Rapids when you said Big Rapids where we are and how great our athletics program is,” Kangas said. “Not only for our men’s basketball team but all other sports too.”
Click here for more coverage of the Bulldogs’ journey through the Elite Eight and beyond.