TU-UK game benefits beyond the buzzer

by Molly Crain
News Editor

Now that the hype from the Transylvania vs. University of Kentucky game has settled down, the Transy community is left wondering, “Will the two teams ever play each other again?”

“We are in a situation where we are depending on the year. You have got to be an experienced, older team to try to do these things,” said Director of Athletics Jack Ebel. “I do think that it’s something that will happen again, but honestly it’s up to UK. We will just have to wait and see.”

Despite the final score of 97-53, Transy has made more gains than losses by playing the Wildcats, one being a 25 percent increase of hits to Transy’s new athletics website.

“On the day of the game there were approximately 1,800 visitors to the website, and 9,300 for the week — that is the highest increase since we started the site in May,” said Ebel.

“A lot of people don’t even know about (Transy),” said Ebel. “When people first hear our name they think, ‘Who? What? Romania?’ ”

However, Ebel isn’t just speaking about attention to the athletics department, but also to hopes that events like the Transy-UK game will attract attention to other programs as well.

“We have this great product that not very many people know about,” Ebel said, “and this is a great way to get it out.”

Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Mike Vetter has his own insight as to how the game impacted Transy.

“One thing that I thought was very good was the campus spirit — the conversation and buzz in the days leading up to the game,” said Vetter. “As dean of students, I pay attention to that more, and I recognize the change in tone on campus in whatever way, shape or form.”

The Sunday night fundraising banquet for the Transylvania athletics department was another benefit from the game. An idea that came from UK’s coach John Calipari, the banquet resulted in support from 400 people within the local community.

Numerous items were auctioned off, including a basketball signed by Calipari and tickets to the game, as well as flowerpot sculptures depicting Transy coach Brian Lane and Calipari, which both went for about $600-$700.
Altogether, the banquet raised $50,000 for Transy’s athletics department.

“Expenses will be taken out of that, but that was a good option to take,” said Vetter.

Virtually selling out Rupp Arena, the game showed support from both sides. Often one would see a person in the crowd sporting both blue and crimson.

“It was a fascinating part of the history. Transy was UK at one time. UK paid Transy to take the name back for $5,000. (The game) was really a remarkable event,” said Ebel.

This event couldn’t have happened until recently. Until two years ago, Division III schools were technically unable to play those ranked as Division I. The re-evaluation of this rule opened the court for opportunities like this one.

The UK game, and the success surrounding it, may serve as a gateway to other similar activities to promote the university.

“We will be looking for new ways to promote (Transy),” Vetter said. “It will be another team, and maybe another sport. But we will be looking for other opportunities to do something very similar.”

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