The promotion is only good through end of business on Friday and cannot be purchased on game day. There what channel is the gcu basketball game on also be postgame autographs with a select number of special edition men's basketball caricatures poster of the team. Beginning at noon on Thursday, Jan. Jersey numbers will be selected in rank order beginning with the highest bidder and descending to the 15th-highest bidder.
But even the most diehard fan would be hard-pressed to know much about the newest Division I entrants, most of whom toil in anonymity for a few years until they do something noteworthy like make the NCAA tournament and pull off an upset. Grand Canyon University is trying to change this perception.
It's unwilling to wait around hoping someone will notice it.
The Antelopes have turned the spotlight on themselves, potentially taking attention away from an established D-I program in their market, and in doing so may have found the cheat code needed to be instantly successful. The Phoenix-based private school is in the fourth year of an NCAA-mandated transition period, having moved up from Division II prior to the season.
It's not eligible for the NCAA tournament until , but even without that opportunity, it's made headlines in a way no other new D-I team has. And that's by design. There's a big difference between wanting something and making it happen.
For Grand Canyon, it required having the right people involved in the transition process and getting high-profile programs to treat it like one of the them instead of the new kid in school.
The latter wasn't an easy sell, since GCU is unlike any other D-I school in that it operates as a for-profit institution. GCU's controversial business model, its aggressive approach to the transition and its early success mean it stands out from the pack of recent Division I additions. Each is in its final year of the process.
For GCU, the move was part of a long climb out of the gutter that began when it resorted to a for-profit model in order to avoid bankruptcy. That was back in , when the Christian university had about students on an aging acre campus that hadn't changed much in its plus-year history.
Most of that went toward establishing a massive online curriculum that now caters to the more than 40, students who make up more than two-thirds of the school's total enrollment, which includes 17, non-online students. Once expansion of the physical campus began, so did the discussion about jumping to Division I athletics.
GCU was successful in D-II, winning the Directors' Cup —awarded to the most successful athletic program in each division—in each of the final two years before it moved up.
But Mueller said part of the push to move to D-I came because "nobody cares" much about D-II, particularly in a market that includes all four major professional sports and a well-established D-I program in Arizona State.
That's when two of the most well-known and well-regarded sports figures in Phoenix stepped in.
Colangelo had first gotten involved with the school to help establish a sports business program, and its business school is now named after him. And it just so happened Colangelo knew someone who was looking for a change. Dan Majerle, a year NBA veteran who was a fan favorite during his time with the Suns, had been part of the Phoenix coaching staff since In January , when the Suns fired head coach Alvin Gentry, Majerle looked to be in line to get the interim gig.
Colangelo called me I just loved the vision they had.
It happened pretty quickly. It hasn't been tough to fill 7, seats since a expansion, and GCU has drawn 6, spectators per game for five home contests this season.
That includes a record 7, fans for a Dec. Though Grand Canyon is not yet a full D-I member, it's managed to convince some big names to play it in Phoenix. The Dec. They had nothing to gain from playing such a game, but Hall of Fame head coach Rick Pitino had agreed to a home-and-home as a favor to Colangelo.
Louisville trailed by one at halftime before winning Before tipoff, the Havocs are the center of what's called the Purple Pregame Party.
About 15 miles away, in Tempe, Arizona State has averaged 5, fans per game for its four contests at the 14,seat Wells Fargo Arena. The Sun Devils ranked 94th in , averaging 5, spectators per game.
But the teams have yet to play since GCU moved to Division I, with ASU reportedly initiating a protest by the Pac Conference against allowing a school with a for-profit model to compete at that level. It's contrary to what we're trying to do.
Arizona will be the first Pac school to play the Antelopes in basketball when it hosts them on Wednesday in Tucson, and Mueller said he hopes that will prompt other schools to follow suit.
But that probably won't include Arizona State, which Mueller believes pushed for the ban not because of concerns about its business model but rather out of fear that contributing to Grand Canyon's athletic success could cause ASU to lose out on prospective students from the region and beyond.
But once we moved to Division I He said all that makes his school qualify as a for-profit institution is that it's publicly traded and thus only people who own its stock can profit when the price goes up.
He said there are no dividends paid out to shareholders from money taken in by the school via tuition or other sources like athletics. A 5,seat soccer stadium opened in August, ground was recently broken on a basketball practice facility and the school's baseball and softball stadiums are set for major facelifts in the near future.
Mueller said investing in athletics is important to continue to foster a sense of community on campus.
|'It’s amazing where we’re going': the relentless rise of GCU basketball||While the two schools often compete against each other in academic contests , they have yet to become rivals in sports. This makes GCU the first for-profit school to ever earn this eligibility.|
|The GCU Experience||Facility information[ edit ] Inside of Grand Canyon University Arena, one hour prior to a men's basketball game.|
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|Scoreboard||It has been quite an impressive run in the Valley for the former Phoenix Suns star, broadcaster and assistant coach.|
This could be seen prior to the Louisville game, when dozens of students camped out in a grassy area north of GCU Arena to ensure they were first in line for seats in the Havocs section.
In , GCU began the process to shift back to nonprofit status, meaning it would buyout its shareholders, but in February, its main accrediting agency blocked that move. Mueller said there's no longer a need for outside investment capital because of the school's strong financial standing, which prompted the attempt to go nonprofit.
If the school makes another effort to drop its for-profit status, it won't be until late in Recruiting, Then vs.
Now In , Majerle inherited a roster that was built to play in Division II but would be facing tougher competition. The players he sought to add had to be better but also willing to play on teams that wouldn't have a shot at the NCAA tournament. It seemed like kids there didn't care as much about getting into the tournament.
I looked at overseas kids, took some kids who were hurt and took a chance on them.
Maybe we'd get some transfers. Braun said he knew he wouldn't get a shot to play in the NCAA tourney early on he redshirted his first season and will still be eligible in as a fifth-year senior , but he understood he could help build a foundation for future teams.
He ended up picking GCU over offers from nearly a dozen other programs, including a handful that have made the NCAA tourney in the last two seasons. Most people don't get to meet those kind of people in their lives.
I was going to be able to come there and start something that's going to be special for years to come. He used his story of being "a 6'5" center" who played at Central Michigan but was a first-round draft pick in He can now cite GCU's early success and also its tremendous home-court atmosphere to woo prospects.
They were in their first Division I season in and the following year, and a fourth consecutive non-losing record is likely. To compare, the three other transitioning D-I schools went a combined in their first three seasons and are a collective this season.
Of the other schools that have jumped to D-I since , only a few have come anywhere close to being this good right away. Florida Gulf Coast made the NCAA tournament in , its second post-transition year, pulling off two upsets en route to the Sweet 16, and in , North Dakota State became the first team in 37 years to make the tourney in its initial season of D-I play.