As the Coastal Carolina baseball team returned home late Thursday night to a throng of fans awaiting its arrival at the airport and then celebrated with many more on Friday with a parade through Conway and a reception back at Springs Brooks Stadium, it really began to sink in what the Chanticleers had done in winning the College World Series and the school’s first national championship.
It will take far longer, though, to calculate the full impact of that accomplishment.
University leaders have already seen an exponential spike in traffic to the Coastal Carolina website and are expecting the exposure generated by the national championship run to boost student applications and long-term interest in the school and its athletic programs.
“I got a call from a couple of people who said, ‘Watch what happens to your enrollment now.’ And the other one was, ‘You all better start building some new dorms because you’re going to need them with this kind of marketing,’ ” university president David DeCenzo said.
Speaking to the fans who came out to the ballpark Friday to honor the champs, DeCenzo shared with them a glimpse into what such an athletic achievement means to a school the size of Coastal Carolina.
“I just want to put things in perspective,” he said during the ceremony. “Yesterday afternoon I got a set of metrics. So we finished up the game about 4 o’clock. At about 7 o’clock we were heading to the buses to go to the airport, and in that three-hour time span there were more than 500,000 hits on our website.”
Speaking later, he said that was about as much web traffic as the school would normally receive in a month.
“In fact, we’re going back tracking the entire month since regionals, super regionals, College World Series, [we’ve had] probably close to two million hits – individual unique hits on our website,” he said.
Obviously I think it helps stamp home what we’ve been saying for so long. We talk about how incredible this place is and I think the nation found out. The nation found out what we had to offer, and onward and upward from here. This is just the start.
CCU athletic director Matt Hogue
The university leadership at Coastal Carolina has always touted the importance of athletics in growing the school’s brand nationally, and at this point the Chants are seeing that like never before.
With an enrollment of a little more than 10,000 students, the university has seen considerable growth over the last decade and will have to decide where it wants to go from here.
“I think the biggest thing is it’s going to open up new markets and we’re going to see the profile of our student go straight up because now with the national exposure we’re going to probably double the number of applications that we have,” said Wyatt Henderson, chairman of the Coastal Carolina board of trustees. “We can still only accept a certain number of students, so I think we’re going to see the profile of our student go up. All of a sudden you’re going to see the attendance at every athletic event go up, so this just takes the university both academically and athletically to the next level. And I couldn’t be prouder.”
The Coastal Carolina players were overwhelmed by the fan turnout as they landed at the Myrtle Beach International Airport’s general aviation area and saw what had to be at least a couple thousand fans packed behind a chain link fence cheering as they got off the plane.
And then again Friday with the response in Conway and at the ballpark.
“I never imagined this many people showing up to support us,” junior designated hitter G.K. Young said. “After seeing that and just all the people that I’ve seen and heard about coming down because we won, I think it’s going to do tremendous things for this school. I believe we’ll get more fans. I’m hoping we’ll get a ton more, but I know we’ll get a few and hopefully we’ll get more students to come here and we’ll let this campus grow and we won’t be second-best to [South] Carolina or Clemson anymore.”
If the Chants didn’t have a significant national profile before, they surely do now after playing on ESPN with fans across the country tuned in to their incredible story.
I think the biggest thing is it’s going to open up new markets and we’re going to see the profile of our student go straight up because now with the national exposure we’re going to probably double the number of applications that we have.
Wyatt Henderson, chairman of the CCU board of trustees
DeCenzo said on the field after that clinching 4-3 win over Arizona on Thursday that he had gotten another text message from a friend, saying that there probably isn’t anybody who doesn’t know where Conway is or what a Chanticleer is at this point.
“I think that’s true,” he said. “You can’t buy this kind of advertising.”
Said athletic director Matt Hogue: “Obviously I think it helps stamp home what we’ve been saying for so long. We talk about how incredible this place is and I think the nation found out. The nation found out what we have to offer, and onward and upward from here. This is just the start.”