FDU, Saint Peter’s proving not all Cinderellas lose their sparkle at midnight

Fairleigh Dickinson University President Michael Alvatroni has had to give out a few reminders this week — as the country gears up for March Madness, which has its first big day Thursday.

“I had to let people know it’s not going to be like last year,” he said.

Last year, of course, was when FDU stunned Purdue, becoming just the second No. 16 seed in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament to defeat a No. 1 seed. The stunning upset led to a barrage of media requests, cameras on campus — and over 8 billion (with a “B”) social media impressions.

Those impressions are still being counted. FDU is featured prominently during the promotion of this year’s tournament — even though it won’t be in it, as it was eliminated in the first round of its conference tournament.

The school is proving the benefits of being Cinderella do not always end at midnight.

Consider how FDU has benefited from its big win:


  • Applications have risen 27% from the previous cycle;
  • Admissions to FDU have increased 35%;
  • Attendance at its fall open houses were up 48% and 33% year-over-year;


  • The school is in the midst of $2 million in facility upgrades;
  • The school executed a long-awaited athletics rebrand;
  • The school reached a multiyearagreement with Bogota Savings Bank in January to rename its basketball arena;
  • The school signed its first-ever television agreement, an eight-game package with the YES Network.

The only question left: How long will the love last?

Alvatroni says it’s not showing any signs of showing up.

“The 2023 FDU Knights embodied the transformative nature of an FDU experience and an FDU education,” he said. “Their story is the FDU story, and we will continue to shout about their accomplishments.

“When I travel and meet people, they often smile and recall how we shocked the world on the basketball court. We embrace that. It’s a perfect example of how our students are prepared to seize their opportunities, wherever they may be found.”

Saint Peter’s fans welcome the team home from the NCAA tournament.

Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City knows the feeling.

It was the Cinderella team of the 2022 tourney (it beat Kentucky on the way to the Elite Eight). And, it’s still benefiting from the experience.

The historic run in 2022 exceeded many of the university’s expectations in terms of media exposure, merchandise sales, social media followers and donor support.

It led to additional guest lecturers — and it inspired the school’s “The World Needs More Peacocks” brand campaign, which is currently in market and performing well.

And, while school officials are thrilled that the impact of the 2022 team remains strong, they are equally excited about the 2024 team — which gets a chance to do it all again.

Saint Peter’s is the only school from New Jersey to qualify for this year’s tournament. It will play the University of Tennessee on Thursday night (approximately 9:20 start).

School spokesperson Angeline Boyer, who serves as the director of university communications, said her team — and the school — is ready to go.

“While that experience was unlike any other in our history, it gave us somewhat of a playbook to navigate our presence in the tournament this year,” she said. “While we have a new team and a new coach, who are prepared to take on any challenge, the experience in 2022 provides us with a foundation for what we may expect.”