Athletic Success Boosts MSU

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Ask almost anyone and they'll tell you it's been a prolific year for Spartan sports at Michigan State University.

Ask anyone within the University's administration and they'll tell you it's been a big help to them too.

"Great athletic performance always helps the institution," said Scott Westerman, executive director of the MSU Alumni Association. "The best thing about what's happening at Michigan State right now is that we're doing so many great things on so many great levels. We have a wonderful story to tell to our potential donors."

This year the story is been a year of athletic triumph. The Spartan football team captured the Rose Bowl title in January -- it's first since 1988. Sunday, MSU bested arch-rival Michigan to win the Big 10 tournament title as it prepares for the NCAA tournament.

"There's always a wonderful ripple effect when our teams are doing well," said Westerman. "It raises the energy of our alumni and it raises the visibility of the other things that are going on at the institution."

In the admissions department, director Jim Cotter says the athletic success puts MSU on a lot of peoples' radar.

"My guess would be that somewhere yesterday in New York City or Los Angeles or Houston or Dallas, there was a young person that watched Tom Izzo's ball club and the excitement surrounding that ball club and they went to that website and they discovered all the things that Michigan State University could be," said Cotter. "So clearly athletics can serve as a front porch to the university to reach out to people. And when that success occurs, everybody loves a winner."

Once again, the admissions office set a new record for applications -- nearly 33,000 this year, Cotter said. It's the fifth consecutive year the school has set an application record.

"There's a lot of excitement. Students are excited, the alumni are excited," he said. "We're seeing a lot of good news being reflected in the number of applications to Michigan State in the coming year."

When Tammy Eberhart watched the end of Sunday's basketball game, she knew it was time to start the presses.

The assistant manager at MSU's bookstore says she's expecting a rush for Big 10 Tournament Champion merchandise in the coming days. The phones already starting ringing Monday morning.

"I just think it's a little piece of the fun," she said of the merchandise.
"[Customers] own a little piece of the excitement and part of everything and showing your school spirit and your pride."

Eberhart doesn't expect anything like the rush that came following MSU's January Rose Bowl victory -- something she describes as "Black Friday tenfold for days and days and weeks and weeks" -- but once merchandise hits shelves, business should be brisk.

And the deeper the Spartans go in the tournament, the busier the bookstore figures to be.

"If we win [the entire tournament], it's just going to be crazy in here just like the Rose Bowl," she said. "It will be busy, people want MSU gear."

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