Saluki basketball success benefits area and school
By: Ryan Tate
CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Southern Illinois Salukis leave for San Jose, California, Tuesday afternoon, with the hopes and dreams of an entire region resting on their shoulders. For the second time in six seasons, the "Dawgs" are heading to the Sweet Sixteen, and the school is getting national attention.
"You cannot pay for this kind of exposure," Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Larry Dietz said. "Anytime you walk through an airport and you someone see you wearing a shirt or coat with the Saluki emblem on it, they always say, 'how about them Dawgs.'"
Sports fans in the region are equally excited about the Saluki's run through the tournament, even if the players are somewhat unaware of their impact on the community.
"We are just trying to do our best, but we see people crying on Senior Night when we said goodbye and it makes you realize what we mean to them," Senior Guard Tony Young said.
"When we have a day game on a weekend, we see how much business picks up in Carbondale and it makes us understand what our success means," Head Coach Chris Lowery said.
For every game played by the Salukis, or any other team in the tournament, the school's conference gets about $190,000. That means the ten teams of the Missouri Valley Conference will get about $57,000 after the Salukis appearance in Thursday's game against the University of Kansas.