- Gentlemen, start your drones: Judge’s ruling opens door for commercial use
- Soldier who hid, bragged about not saluting flag to be punished — in secret
- ‘Maverick’ of the seas: ‘Top Gun’ school for U.S. ship officers to launch
- Putin declares Sochi Paralympics open amid Ukrainian protest
- ‘In Jesus name, we pray’ sparks ire at Ohio council meeting
- Navy’s first laser weapon ready for prime time; drone killer to deploy this summer
- Billionaire backer: Rick Santorum ‘needs to be heard’ in 2016
- Obamacare fallout: 49 percent pessimistic; 45 percent ‘scared’
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
- Seattle socialist: Minimum-wage discussion skewed by ‘right-wing’ GAO analysis
Good news travels fast among VCU alumni
Since final buzzer sounded, all talk is about Final Four
Passengers at Dubai International Airport last Sunday must have wondered what was causing all the commotion. Why was this man so excited after getting off the telephone?
This man was Rep. Rob Wittman, the Republican congressman from Virginia’s 1st District who received his doctorate in public policy and administration from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2002.
“I was like, ‘Wow,’ That was fantastic,” Wittman said. “I proceeded to tell everybody in our delegation about it. I let them know how good the [Colonial Athletic Association] was. You didn’t have to be from the Big Ten or ACC to make it to the Final Four. There was a little friendly banter back and forth.”
David Baldacci didn’t have a raucous celebration. The novelist, who lives in Fairfax, got a political science degree from VCU in 1983 and has served on the school’s Board of Visitors. But he married into a Kansas family. His wife, Michelle, is a Kansas fan. His brother-in-law Scott Collin, also a Fairfax resident, is a Kansas graduate.
“I was the happy one and they weren’t,” Baldacci said. “I didn’t have anybody to celebrate with.”
So Baldacci resorted to a little mischief. He left a message for Collin. “I pretended to be from the VCU ticket office, and I offered him tickets because I knew he’d want to see them play again.” He received a text message in response, “and you can’t print what it said in a newspaper,” Baldacci said with a laugh.
The VCU alumni office said about 20,000 graduates live in the D.C. area, many of them probably a little easier to recognize this week than before. While VCU is not an infrequent participant in the NCAA tournament, this is the first time the Rams have moved past the second round. Their improbable run to the Final Four after finishing fourth in their own league has caught the nation’s fancy much as George Mason’s Final Four trip did in 2006.
Aaron Gilchrist, a news anchor and reporter at WRC-TV (Channel 4), received his mass communications degree from VCU in 2003. He’s been sporting VCU gear around town and calls the Final Four trip “pleasantly mind-blowing. I find myself with a sense of pride that is completely unfamiliar to me … to sit back and watch the guys on this team and this coach just play incredible basketball and enjoy it. It makes you proud to be a Ram.
“It’s been an absolutely magical experience to watch. This whole weekend and into this week, I’ve never been in a better mood. For your typical big sports schools, your Dukes and those guys, this is old hat. For us, this is uncharted territory. It is a terrific place to be.”
Wittman did his undergraduate work at the University of North Carolina, which made it to at least the Sweet 16 every year he was there in the late 1980s. He knows what a successful basketball program has done for UNC and thinks VCU will soon see such benefits.
“It isn’t always apparent immediately, but down the road it will increase the visibility of the school,” Wittman said. “That has a significant return. More students will say, ‘VCU, where is it, what are the majors?’ It all has a great deal of positives for the university.”
Added Baldacci, “It has been phenomenal for the school. Everybody up here is talking about VCU and, a week ago, they may not have known who VCU was. … You can’t buy that kind of publicity. The long-term benefits are it will snowball and continue to build. They have some world-class programs there. You need a little exposure and if sports does it, so be it.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Washington Times sports editor Mike Harris has more than 30 years experience in the business as a reporter, columnist and manager. He’s covered a wide variety of events including two Olympics, horse racing, auto racing, professional and college sports. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow the section on Twitter @WashTimesSports.
- HARRIS: Blown game leaves Caps missing the point
- HARRIS: Dust off the snow as Nats spring training heats up
- HARRIS: Caps have work to do to keep playoff streak alive
- Caps' Canadian contingent cheers for country over Carlson
- HARRIS: Will Alex Ovechkin sulk or soar after Olympic failure?
Latest Blog Entries
- Gio Gonzalez living a dream by throwing bullpen sessions to ex-Yankee Jorge Posada
- Meet Connor Carrick, the youngster who played his way onto the Caps' final roster
- Go Aggies: Nationals notes and lineups for Sept. 14
- RG3: There is no conflict with Redskins coach Mike Shanahan
- Sunday Nats-Dodgers lineups and some thoughts from reliever Craig Stammen
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second
- Bill Clinton cashes in on struggling nonprofit hospital
- Vietnam says it may have found door of missing Malaysian jet as intel look into stolen passports
- CPAC 2014 straw poll results
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- PIPES: Islam's inadvertent adverse effects on adherents
- CARSON: Why did the founders give us the Second Amendment?
- Italy outraged over U.S. gun dealer's 'David' ad
- WEBER: Obamacare cuts home healthcare for millions of seniors
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again