Ball State University says its football team’s 2020 MAC championship and winning bowl game appearance has increased interest in the Muncie school. IPR’s Stephanie Wiechmann reports.
Ball State Athletic Director Beth Goetz says 2.65 million viewers watched Ball State football on the ESPN and CBS television networks this season – games that would normally be streamed.
That interest, especially during the Arizona Bowl, led to more traffic on the Ball State website. During the bowl game itself, more than 800 people clicked on a 2019 blog post about where Ball State got its name.
“Athletics can often be seen as the front porch, and it is clear the team’s success this year and visibility made people interested in who we are,” says Goetz.
The university says in a three-week period of December and January, Ball State Cardinals football was mentioned in the media more than 14,000 times. Officials say they’d have to spend $30 million in ad revenue for that amount of exposure.
Head football coach Mike Neu says the Cardinals are grateful for the fans, especially in a season that might not have happened because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The hardest part for all of us this year was just not to be able to share it with our supporters, our long-time supporters – the season ticket holders that have been there with us. And even though a lot of times we played games and there were no fans in the stands, we could feel the support.”
In addition to the wins and a #23 AP ranking, Goetz says 26 football student-athletes made the Academic All-MAC list, which is the highest in the conference.