Photo by Ian Feldmann.
“Undeniable. Mayhem. Brings. Crowds.”
When UMBC comes to mind, people typically think, “Isn’t that the school in College Park?” Well not anymore, the enthusiasm behind UMBC athletics has changed the way the school will be looked at until the end of time. For the longest time, UMBC was looked at as nothing more than a STEM school with very little athletic ability. The best thing about UMBC outside the STEM program is the ability to bring in a diverse group of students.
When it comes to sports at UMBC, they have been put on the back burner. The focus on the school is on the scholars and their ability to succeed in the arts and sciences. UMBC has been widely known as the little brother to the University of Maryland, College Park. Everything would soon change for UMBC as the world would see there is more to the school than just their smarts.
UMBC has had more than half of Maryland in the palm of their hands after their historic win against Virginia in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. There are no words that could describe what this exposure has done for the school. There have been a number of famous celebrities that have been shouting out UMBC and the entire basketball team. From Aaron Rodgers to the Baltimore Ravens to even the creators of the popular video game Fortnite, everyone has taken notice to this Cinderella team.
With the Retriever win on Friday, the school store on campus had a complete shutdown online due to the amount of merchandise being purchased. The popularity has caused UMBC online bookstore sales to surpass their yearly sales in just one night. The school has garnished a tremendous 24 million in revenue for advertisement.
Even assistant Athletic Director Mike D’Archangelo was surprised by the amount of fame the school is getting. “I know the amount of free advertising we’re getting is unbelievable but this is something that I could never imagine,” said D’Archangelo. He continued, “The map that the soccer team put us on in 2014 when we made it to the Final Four has just been surpassed.”
Over the course of the year, 87 percent of UMBC’s Athletics Twitter mentions occurred either Friday night or Saturday. It’s gotten so crazy that even the man behind the social media account, Director of Multimedia Communications Zach Seidel, has garnished a fair amount of fame from this weekend.
The alumni of UMBC see this as an opportunity to get quality players and promote the school to the entire nation. “This has put UMBC on the map, we’re on the news 24/7 now, it’s gonna help from an athletic and academic perspective,” said one alumnus at a reception prior to the game Sunday.
When asked about the impact of this tremendous moment, one alumnus compared it to the Super Bowl winning Philadelphia Eagles. “Certain things like the Eagles winning their first Super Bowl, that’s special for Philly, this is special for everybody, everybody is looking for us and will forever.” The aura that has surrounded the state of North Carolina and Maryland is unmatched. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.
Sunday night UMBC was bested by Kansas State 50-43. The entire arena was behind the Retrievers as they did everything they could to stay in this game. The contest was close all throughout, but UMBC ran out of gas and looked exhausted towards the end.
During the press conference, graduate-guard Jairus Lyles believes that the nation will have nothing but pride and respect for the team and what they’ve accomplished. “We’ve had tremendous support from our fans all year and I expect them to be very happy with us, proud of us so I expect a warm welcome.”
As The Retrievers head home, they will always be remembered in the NCAA history books as the team who did the impossible.