Charleston Southern University sophomore Megin Arrocha didn't attend a single football game last year.
Football wasn't even on the radar screen, she said.
But now that the school is on a winning streak with a 6-0 record, she thinks she'll buy a ticket and show up this year. She better hurry.
David Weiss, a 2003 graduate and a member of the booster club, said he was thrilled when he went to the game against North Greenville University last week and found it was sold out, and glad he had bought his ticket in advance. “I can't remember the last time that happened,” he said. “It's a neat time to be a Buccaneer.”
The university, affiliated with the S.C. Baptist Convention, has worked hard to increase scholarships for talented athletes and improve athletic facilities, he said, and it's paying off.
Now, friends of his who graduated from the College of Charleston and Winthrop University are jealous because their schools don't have football teams, he said. “This is a big deal for us.”
Catherine White, another sophomore, said she also works as a security guard at the football games. “There are three times more people at the games this year than there were last year,” she said. “No one came last year.”
Jairy Hunter, president of the 3,200-student university, said a winning football team is one of many things happening on the North Charleston campus.
“But everybody likes to win,” he said. So the winning team has brought “a sense of energy and excitement to the campus.”
Beating The Citadel a few weeks ago “put us an upswing,” he said. “Now, even students who don't go to games are excited.”
When a sports team does well, Hunter said, it brings national attention to the school. That enables the university to recruit better athletes, he said. And it brings in other students as well. Students who might not have heard of or considered attending Charleston Southern before might look into it after learning about the university through its football program, he said.
Applications already are up over this time last year, he said.
Mike McCann, a 2008 graduate, was on the university's football team when it won a conference championship in 2005. He knows that a winning team generates excitement.
And a 6-0 record builds a lot of momentum, he said. “When there's a winning football program, there's excitement at a school,” he said. “The school gets on the map.”
And the benefits of winning extend beyond the campus. Will Boone, general manager of the Cook Out restaurant on University Boulevard, said home games are very exciting now. “There are lots more families and fans than we got last year,” he said, and they are much more animated.
“When they're at home,” Boone said of the team, it's great for business.”