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Bowl game gives UB a chance to shine before national audience

by jmaloni

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Sat, Dec 14th 2013 07:00 am

Appearance at Famous Idaho Potato Bowl isn't only about football for UB

The University at Buffalo is heading to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Dec. 21, giving the university an opportunity to introduce a national audience to the institution's athletic, academic and research strengths.

The game will be broadcast on ESPN and ESPN Radio.

The Bulls got their invitation after an 8-4 season whose highlights included a seven-game win streak and the country's No. 10 red-zone defense and fourth best turnover margin.

But the Dec. 21 match-up against San Diego State isn't only about football for UB, President Satish K. Tripathi said in a message to the university community Monday morning.

The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl "provides UB with another national stage on which to showcase our academic, research and athletic excellence," Tripathi said.

It's an opportunity for the university to connect with alumni across the country and make them proud. In addition, the game could be a boost for student recruitment, with the ESPN broadcast exposing huge numbers of football fans to the UB brand.

And while bowl invitations aren't a silver bullet for increased enrollment and alumni giving, "schools can benefit from their enhanced visibility and name recognition, particularly if they peg the free publicity to their academics," according to an article on "the Cinderella Effect" published by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. 

A. Scott Weber, UB senior vice provost for academic affairs, said UB's appearance in the bowl may help build on UB's record fall enrollment, which saw the university enroll 29,940 students, including about 5,200 international students and 3,700 freshmen. 

"The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl is a terrific platform to highlight UB's excellent academic programs to prospective students," Weber said.

To leverage and build on the excitement, UB is sharing the good news with 230,000 alumni worldwide through social media and personal outreach. UB will be hosting "viewing parties" in Buffalo, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and other cities with strong alumni chapters.

The university also is hoping for a strong turnout of alumni - as well as faculty, staff, students and fans - at the game in Boise. More than 5,400 UB alumni live in the eight U.S. states of the Mountain West region, and there are 1,122 alumni residing in San Diego, the home city of the UB Bulls' opponent. 

"Going to a bowl game is such an exciting notion all on its own, but it's also a tremendous rallying point for our alumni," said Nancy Wells, UB vice president for development and alumni relations. "They love this university, and we couldn't be happier to provide a reason for them to gather in support of UB. This national spotlight on their alma mater gives alumni another reason to share their UB pride."

As they did when President Barack Obama visited UB in August, university officials will be highlighting a few key institutional messages before, during and after the bowl game that they believe will resonate with a national audience and showcase the strengths of a major research university.

Among these key messages:

•UB is a school on the move, with an exciting vision to advance to the highest tier of the nation's leading public research universities.

•UB is New York's flagship public university, the largest and most comprehensive school in the SUNY system.

•UB is solving problems and improving lives through innovative faculty research addressing local and global challenges.

•UB attracts very bright and talented students from around the world.

•UB students receive an outstanding and affordable education and graduate with low debt.

•UB athletics is bringing big-time college sports to Western New York and New York state.

"This bowl invitation is monumental for our athletic program and is a great way to close out a record-breaking season for our football team," said Danny White, UB vice president and director of athletics. "We could not be more proud of our student-athletes, and look forward to seeing them compete on ESPN's flagship channel in more than 100 million households across the country. Our goal is to be in this position every year as we work to build 'America's next big-time college athletics brand.' "

This is the second time in university history that the UB Bulls football team will appear in a bowl game. Buffalo battled UConn in the 2009 International Bowl, and was invited to the 1958 Tangerine Bowl, but declined that invitation after being told that its African-American players would not be allowed to play.

"As we advance our prominence as one of the nation's great research universities, our success in building a nationally competitive Division I athletic program is a significant element in our broader vision of institutional excellence," Tripathi said.

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