By Isaiah Rosario, Assistant Sports Editor
Saint-Pierre University: what more can we say. The Peacocks have been making waves since beating number two ranked University of Kentucky 85-79 in the first round of March Madness. But the success of Saint Peter does not stop there.
In the second round of March Madness, the Peacocks defeated number seven ranked Murray State 70-60. In the Sweet 16, many across the country thought their dancing time was coming to an end. Although many doubted the Peacocks, they held their heads high and rallied to defeat 3-seeded Purdue, 67-64.
Unfortunately, two days later, the Peacocks were defeated by the North Carolina Tarheels, ending the Cinderella story with a score of 69-49.
But the success of an underfunded, purely passionate team is something that will never be forgotten at MAAC and across the country. The Peacocks were the first team in NCAA history to advance to the Elite 8 as a 15 seed and the first team in MAAC history to even make it past the second round.
Associate Commissioner for Men’s Basketball at MAAC, Jordan Confessore, spoke to the Quadrangle about what this magical run from Saint Peter’s does for MAAC.
“It does a tremendous amount for MAAC,” Confessore said. “Making a team compete at this level comes with great visibility. Domestically, the whole nation rallied behind Saint Peter’s, especially after their first victory, but as they got further and further into the tournament.
This Saint Peter’s run was amazing for their school, basketball team, and athletic program, but this run also comes with great publicity for the entire MAAC conference.
“That says a lot for MAAC, whether it’s exposure, certain financial implications that also come with winning the tournament,” Confessore said. “It was an incredible race for the Saint Peter’s team and it was great for MAAC.”
The amount of exposure that MAAC and Saint Peter’s University have received comes as a massive publicity boost for all schools at the MAAC conference. Director of Intercollegiate Athletics at Manhattan College, Marianne Reilly spoke about what this race does for MAAC and Manhattan College.
“It helps [the MAAC] get a little more national recognition,” Reilly said. “As you probably already know, St. Peter’s website crashed, they were just off the charts when it came to social media. People are curious, they want to know, well, who is this team Where are they located?…I think it’s an exciting time for the institution that’s making it.
This Saint Peter’s race helps show that with determination and faith in yourself and your teammates, you are capable of accomplishing anything.
“Even though we compete year-round in all of our sports, we root for each other when we get to that point, how could you not,” Reilly said. “For a school like St. Peters, which is a small school, very similar in size to [Manhattan College] it makes you realize that, hey, you know, with a few pauses here and there, you catch lightning in the bottle every once in a while. If it can happen, it can happen to anyone.
According to an NBC Newscast, applications for admission to St. Pierre have already increased by 56% since the start of their March Madness run. With the increase in publicity, the dropping of names and success in a place like March Madness, Reilly predicts that high school athletes will start leaning more towards MAAC programs.
“Every time you win, it creates an aura that people are curious about when they win, they’ll come,” Reilly said. “It’s really interesting, having been part of the building process and watching them when recruiting becomes a bit easier and sometimes even more strategic because now you can choose who you want in your team. They all come to you because they all want to be part of a winning program.When you have consistency in winning, it will happen.
Manhattan saw its fair share of wins and publicity with the success of last year’s softball team as they were the 2021 MAAC Champions.
“The fact that we won last year in softball definitely helps us grow and tells our story,” Reilly said. “When you and your coach recruit, you can tell that story to the recruits. Everyone wants to be part of a winner and makes recruiting a little easier.
While all of this talk has been about men’s basketball, that doesn’t hide the fact that people will be watching the MAAC program as a whole. During March Madness games, screens next to the bench displayed which conference the team came from. Google Trends shows a spike in searches for “MAAC” in March. When success comes in one MAAC sport, it always seems to trickle down to other sports on MAAC campuses.
“When there are eyes on Saint Peter’s they started looking oh, what league is Saint Peter’s in, they’re in MAAC… I think that will carry over to other sports to some degree because with all this exposure in the eyes of this conference,” Confessore said. “I think it will definitely spark interest that maybe wasn’t there already or some people who weren’t as familiar will understand how great this league is. .”