While football boosters are apparently taking their support away from Idaho, Gonzaga’s growth has shown what the exposure from a successful sports program can bring to a university.
Gonzaga hit the national stage in 1999 with its improbable run to the NCAA tournament’s Elite 8. That exposure prompted more hits on students visiting the Gonzaga website (1 million in 1998 to 2.38 million in 1999). In fact, the website was so overloaded with requests in March of 1999 that it crashed for several days.
Some nine years later, the school’s attendance jumped from 4,500 to 6,900 students and sparked some 28 building projects worth $185 million.
While many of the projects were built to enhance student facilities, the basketball success was credited for making “people sit up and take notice of us,” school spokesman Dale Goodwin told The Spokesman-Review in 2008.
Late last month, Gonzaga opened the $24 million Volkar Center for Athletic Achievement. It was named after a recently transplanted Coeur d’Alene couple, Pat and Sandy Volkar, who moved here in 2011 and instantly became GU fans.
The Volkar Center is one of several construction projects campus-wide as part of the Gonzaga Will fundraising campaign launched about a year ago. It has raised $212 million toward its $250 million goal for the school, which currently has an enrollment of 7,491, according to the school’s website.
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