Brodie Remington has seen two significant college sports achievements during his career as a fundraiser -- the University of Oregon's Rose Bowl visit in 1995 and the University of Maryland's 2002 national championship in men's basketball.
"In both cases, there was a significant boost in the number of donors to the university [beyond athletics] and, apparently, in the amount of dollars contributed," Remington, now vice president for university relations at Maryland and president of the University of Maryland College Park Foundation, wrote in an e-mail.
Many factors influence the dollars given to a school, including the economy and whether the university is running a capital campaign. It's impossible to determine how much influence "a specific factor had," he wrote.
Still, as West Virginia University's basketball team plays in its first Final Four since 1959, officials believe the run could help the school and the WVU Foundation reconnect with alumni and attract more donors.
"The visibility of WVU is raised to the national stage," said Wayne King, president and CEO of the WVU Foundation. "The national attention given to West Virginia University is at a much higher level."
Going to the Final Four after a long drought brings out alumni and other friends of the university who otherwise might not connect with the institution, according to Remington.
"We had wonderful opportunities to establish new relationships or strengthen existing ones with people of influence and affluence," he wrote. "The benefits lasted years. Hard to measure the specific results, but I know the institution benefited."
Final Four experiences
Before he came to the WVU Foundation, King worked for 10 years at the Oklahoma State University Foundation. The school's basketball team reached the Final Four twice -- after which, he said, the foundation had more donors, and those donors gave more.
"Academics benefits, as well," King said. "There's certainly an understanding and a belief that the increased giving does spill over into academics."
Like Remington, King said it's difficult to say why a single donor gives to the foundation. For instance, it's tough to say that so many people gave money largely because West Virginia beat Oklahoma in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl.
But King doesn't sell short the great pride the Final Four experience instills in the university community and West Virginia residents. "That benefit just really permeates the entire institution," he said.
Remington agreed, saying that Maryland's tournament experience greatly increased the alumni's pride, interest and enthusiasm in the university.
"Many alumni associate winning sports with winning academics," he said.
WVU President Jim Clements agreed that, by reaching the Final Four, a university's fundraising usually goes up -- along with its image.
"The excitement is huge for this state, this university," he said. "For us, it's big. It really is big."
Clements was at Towson University near Baltimore when Maryland reached the Final Four in 2001 and won the tournament the following year.
"It was unbelievable for the institution," he said. "The whole state benefited from the Final Four run and the national championship."