By Bill Hudson

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – After Wednesday’s win over Auburn in the Outback Bowl, you can still feel the excitement all over the University of Minnesota’s campus. Though historically the Gophers haven’t seen national success, this year’s 11-2 season could go a long way toward attracting high-caliber players.

College sports is a part of the higher education experience that can’t be measured by grades. But for Gopher band members Amy Choi and Collin Lane, who were at the Outback bowl, it’s more about school pride.

“We are one of the more forgotten schools so people have to start taking notice of us now I think, and that might help boost enrollment,” Choi said.

Both Choi and Lane chose the university for its academics, not its athletics. But a winning sports programs does help seal the deal.

In the last 10 years, major bowl wins by Florida, Clemson and Auburn were followed by double-digit jumps in college applications.

“Usually people identify their schools by their football programs,” said Kevin King, a teaching specialist in the university’s sports management program.

While program offerings attract students, winning teams help seal the deal. “People want to be a part of that community, people want to be a part of something special, people want to be a part of winners,” he said.

One of the contributing factors in Evan Beaumier’s choice to attend Michigan State was the school’s basketball program. “I think when you’re a kid in high school watching the game on weekends, it plays a role to persuade you to go to that school,” he said. “It’s good to see them beat a marquee program, come back home and be excited, and everyone around town is excited so it’s good.”

However, any bounce from the Outback Bowl win won’t be felt for a while. That’s because applications for the fall semester will be due in less than two weeks.

More than 40,000 prospective students applied to the university last semester; only 6,278 were enrolled for fall admission.

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