Donations for Loyola-Chicago up 660 percent after Final Four run

A trip to the Final Four for Loyola-Chicago has resulted in a 660 percent increase in donations as compared to the previous year, the school announced Monday.

The private school declined to give actual dollar amounts, but said the increase represented the time period from March 1 to April 2, 2018, versus the prior year.

The amount of donations the athletic department received for this time period was 28 percent more than the previous highest total received in 1988, said Tom Soboro, Loyola's senior associate athletic director of external operations.

Some of the money will be earmarked for the Alfie Norville Practice Facility, which is being built to give new practice courts to men's and women's basketball teams and women's volleyball. Other donation money will go toward the general needs of enhancing the student-athlete experience, including academic services, nutrition and sports performance and a bump in travel and recruiting budgets for the Ramblers.

The donation money doesn't include additional licensing revenue, which hasn't been tallied yet. Sorboro said that the school had at least 30 new licensees come aboard to make merchandise. Some licensed their team chaplain Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt, who became the darling of the tournament. One of those licensees was the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame, which sold more than 17,000 bobbleheads of the nun, a company record. Sorboro said that Sister Jean approved of the school licensing her name and image, but did not ask for anything in return.

A donation bump is a given for surprise teams that wind up in the Final Four. Donations to George Mason's athletic department went up 25 percent in the year after the team made it to the Final Four in 2006. VCU saw 500 new donors give money to the school in March 2011, when it went to its first Final Four, compared to a standard month of 30 to 40 new donors.

Gonzaga's run in the NCAA tournament, beginning as Cinderellas in 1999 and now being perennial contenders, has done wonders for the small school. Between 1999 and 2017, the school saw its endowment grow from $67 million to $213 million (up 218 percent), annual fundraising grow from $13.4 million to $31.1 million (up 127.7 percent) and total donors grow from 7,006 to 13,261 (up 89.3 percent).

What remains to be seen is what happens with applications. Loyola's web traffic was up more than four times in the month of March and the school had 31 percent more interest from students in requesting information about the school.

The onetime commuter school has many of its students coming from within Illinois, and more than half its alumni stay in Chicago. The Final Four run could give the school a chance to become more national, as was the case with George Mason when the school received 54 percent more applications from out-of-state after its Final Four run.