For only the second time in school history — and the first time since 2007 — the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Men's basketball team played in the NCAA Tournament Tuesday night.
The Islanders season came to an end though with a 76-67 loss to Texas Southern.
“We did not get the outcome that we wanted, but we celebrate our students everyday anyway," TAMU-CC Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Clarenda Phillips said. "And we are so proud of our students including our male student athletes. So it was a good day to be an Islander. They did make it into the tournament, and there’s a lot to be said for that.”
There's also a lot to be said about the exposure the school got on a large national stage.
Millions of people watch "March Madness" every year, and playing in this year's tournament's very first game likely meant a huge television audience.
“We are a hidden jewel down here in South Texas," Phillips said. "And we know we offer a great education — a great place for students to come live, learn. And so I think we are on the map. I think, if nothing else, we were in the tournament bracket. So I think people will find us more readily now.”
Dozens of Islander fans watched the game at two watch-parties hosted by Brewster Street Ice House Downtown and the Post bar and restaurant.
One of those fans, a 1994 TAMU-CC graduate, used a stock market term while agreeing with Phillips that the tournament appearance was a positive for the school.
“It’s huge — not only for the university, for sports, for academics — all of the above," Kelley Allen said. "Corpus Christi is an IPO (initial public offering) taking off, :53 and we’re very blessed to have Texas A&M Corpus Christi as part of our community.”