To the Surprise Victor Go the Freshman Applications North Carolina's tiny Davidson College has become this year's "Cinderella" team in the NCAA men's basketball tournament. If Davidson experiences the same sort of windfall George Mason University experienced in 2006, the school's admissions office is about to be overwhelmed.
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To the Surprise Victor Go the Freshman Applications

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To the Surprise Victor Go the Freshman Applications

To the Surprise Victor Go the Freshman Applications

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ANDREA SEABROOK, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Andrea Seabrook.

This year's Cinderella team in college basketball is North Carolina's Davidson. Cinderella because no one expected them to look so good at the ball - or I guess I should say with the ball.

Last night, Davidson, a school with just 1,700 students, didn't just beat the University of Wisconsin, which has 29,000 undergrads, Davidson clobbered them 73-56. The win sends them from the Sweet 16 to the Elite 8 in the March Madness tournament. Tenth seeded Davidson faces Number 1 seed Kansas tomorrow afternoon.

Now, if Davidson is like Cinderella teams of the past, Christopher Gruber should get ready for a deluge. He's the school's vice president for admissions and financial aid, and he joins us now from Davidson. Congratulations, sir.

Mr. CHRISTOPHER GRUBER (Vice President, Admissions and Financial Aid, Davidson College): Thank you very much. It's an exciting time to be in Davidson.

SEABROOK: Have you been able to process the news yet?

Mr. GRUBER: It's a little unreal I have to tell you.

SEABROOK: Now, you work in admissions. Have you noticed any additional attention since the team reeled off these big wins?

Mr. GRUBER: We have. We have had people that are attending other colleges and universities asking I think I would like to transfer. Can I send an application in now?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. GRUBER: We have had unsolicited applications come in the mail just in the past week, and some of them wanted to be on the basketball team…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. GRUBER: …as well. So we have had some traffic since that first win last Friday.

SEABROOK: Now, I've got somebody in the studio with me right now who can offer you some advice, I think. His name is Robert Baker. He is the director of sports management at George Mason University. They were the Cinderellas of the tournament in 2006. How are you, Mr. Baker?

Mr. ROBERT BAKER (Director, Sports Management, George Mason University): I'm doing fine, thank you.

SEABROOK: Now, Mr. Baker, meet Christopher Gruber.

Mr. BAKER: Christopher, it's great to meet you.

MR. GRUBER: Oh, I'm anxious for this advice, please. Prep me, prep me.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BAKER: I don't know if it's possible to be completely prepped for this.

SEABROOK: So, tell us what happened to George Mason after the 2006 tournament.

Mr. BAKER: There was a 350 percent increase in inquiries, much like you're already experiencing. Whether it's by phone, e-mail, they just kept coming in. Our out-of-state applicants went up 40 percent. So, a lot of people heard about us, I think, as a result of the final four.

We tried to establish and get our arms around a media exposure value, which we conservatively estimate that as $677 million.

SEABROOK: Just the press from being in the Final Four.

Mr. BAKER: Just the exposure, absolutely.

SEABROOK: So, Christopher Gruber down at Davidson College, what goes through your mind when you hear about this?

MR. GRUBER: That's absolutely phenomenal to hear Robert. You know, right now we're looking at it and we're wondering, everybody's joking on campus, what is our yield going to be like? Right now instead of having an incoming class of 470, I think there's great concern that we may have an incoming class of 570 or 670, which we would not have great ease in accommodating.

SEABROOK: Well, Robert Baker, how long does the party last? How long do you get this incredible wave of interest?

Mr. BAKER: I'd say there's definitely still an impact. We recently released a study and found that the organizational commitment levels of university employees increased. And one of the causes that they were referencing was the spirit generated by the final four.

SEABROOK: You hear that, Christopher Gruber?

MR. GRUBER: I am writing furiously.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MR. GRUBER: You know, it's so wonderful to hear that 'cause, obviously I was questioning in my own mind how long will this last? And one of the biggest things here is maintaining community…

Mr. BAKER: Yes.

MR. GRUBER: …within Davidson. I think one of the reasons that this place is so electric is this is a victory, yes, for the men's basketball team. It's a victory for the college. But it's also a victory for this small town. And last night at 9:00 if you were on Main Street - and Main Street in Davidson is truly the main street - cars honking, people yelling, people jumping up and down, that's the neat piece of this story.

Mr. BAKER: Right.

SEABROOK: Christopher Gruber, vice president for admissions and financial aid for Davidson College, and Robert Baker, director of sports management at George Mason University. Gentlemen, thank you very much.

Mr. BAKER: Oh, thank you.

MR. GRUBER: It's been a pleasure. And, Robert, if you think of anything else I hope you'll let me know.

Mr. BAKER: I will be in touch.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MR. GRUBER: Thank you.

SEABROOK: The tenth seeded Davidson Wildcats are in the Elite 8 of this year's NCAA men's basketball tournament. They play the Number 1 seeded Kansas Jayhawks tomorrow afternoon.

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