The first half of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament’s octofinals is tonight. Marquette-Miami. Arizona-Ohio State. Syracuse-Indiana. La Salle-Wichita State. Tournament darlings Florida Gulf Coast don’t play until tomorrow, but the number of profiles of their team already is growing at an exponential rate. I’ve criticized Jonathan Mahler before, but his latest for the still-mysterious Bloomberg View is fun:
If you’re wondering how Florida Gulf Coast University became the first 15th seed in the history of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament to advance to the Sweet 16, look no further than the ur-text of the school’s economics department: “Atlas Shrugged.”
Embedded in this long, ponderous novel — required reading for all undergraduate economics and finance majors at FGCU — is the formula for transforming your college from a bunch of trailers on a swamp into the most talked-about school in the country. It’s simple, really. All you need to do is practice what Ayn Rand called “rational self-interest.”
Don’t waste your time wooing Nobel laureates to your faculty or trying to recruit National Merit Scholars to a college they’ve never heard of. Do what any self-respecting entrepreneur would do: Devote your resources to building a first-class Division I basketball program.
It’s not going to happen overnight, but FGCU pulled it off pretty quickly. It might have happened sooner, were it not for that great bane of Rand and her acolytes: regulators. The Eagles basketball program started in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and had to apply more than once before being accepted into the National Collegiate Athletic Association — at the Division II level. Even after being granted permission to move up to Division I, the team had to wait three years before becoming eligible for postseason play.
Read the rest here.
Can the FGCU Eagles drive their freedom train into the next round? Tune in tomorrow night to find out.