The FGCU men’s basketball team has ruled the sporting world for the past few weeks with its run to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA tournament.
This trip has brought continued Internet traffic to the main FGCU webpage and the FGCU athletics website.
“I’ve never seen anything like this on the athletic website,” said FGCU assistant athletic director for media relations. “It was a unique situation, and this garnered a million page views at one point.”
When FGCU won the Atlantic Sun Conference title against Mercer on March 9, the web visitors to fgcu.edu and fgcuathletics.com were 19,134 and 8,951 respectively.
When the Eagles found out they were playing No. 2 seed Georgetown in Philadelphia on Sunday March 17, the school website views were 31,148 visitors and the athletics website views were at 8,291 visitors.
The day before playing Georgetown, traffic was slightly above normal with 47,067 visitors going to the school website and 8,177 going to athletics. When the Eagles shocked the Hoyas with a 10-point victory the next night, page views exploded and a Brett Comer alley-oop to Chase Fieler crashed the server.
“There were two or three minutes left in the game, Chase threw it down and that’s when it crashed,” Pierson said. “Hits began rolling through, our Twitter account crashed and that was the peak of it.”
That Friday, 117,344 people went the school website and 68,825 went on the athletic website to read about the small school from Ft. Myers, Florida.
The momentum carried over into the third round of the tournament against San Diego State University, when the Eagles upset the Aztecs by 10 points. This led Pierson into the most chaotic period of the tournament.
“It was hectic from the moment we beat San Diego State to the pep rally. During that 24-hour span, I honestly didn’t know if I was going to make it,” Pierson said. “If I didn’t have a great staff around me, and Coach Enfield and the players who were great with the media, my job would’ve been a lot harder.”
Over that 24-hour period, 408,078 people visited fgcu.edu and 210,843 visited fgcuathletics.com.
Pierson’s experience with this tournament has led him to believe that his department could bring internship opportunities to the student body.
“For our department (sports information), it brings notoriety and spreads to students that there are opportunities in media relations.
They gain real world experience with a Division 1 program and a great resume builder also,” Pierson said. “I hope it engages some kids to come out and intern, because we need help for the University and athletic department after this priceless exposure.”
Although page views have gone down to normal numbers, it is a testament that Cinderella’s slipper only fits for so long.
FGCU made history by being the first No. 15 seed to advance to the Sweet Sixteen, and people appear to be proud that such a small university made a big impact on the national scene.