The University of New Orleans men’s basketball team is set to make a noticeable debut on the big screen in the upcoming weeks. Recently, a few sports cable outlets (Cox Sports TV and Fox Sports 1) have picked up the franchise and decided to broadcast it through various college sports networks, giving the UNO privateers an opportunity for exposure the program has not seen since its Sunbelt Conference days.
“It’s probably been a good 10 years since we’ve had this level of exposure,” said University of New Orleans Associate Athletic Director Jacob Ludwikowski.
The franchise has spent the past few years hobbling between divisions; however, since returning to Division 1, the program has seen considerable growth, most notably, playing higher-profile teams and securing some success with games now in the works of being broadcasted.
“Right now, we’re back to a point where we believe we can be competitive in these higher-level games—we’ll be playing University of Southern California this year, [University of] Tulsa, Oklahoma State [University], Northwestern [University] from the Big Ten [Conference],” said Ludwikowski. “We play a lot of those larger conference games because we believe we can be competitive in those games and that helps us get on TV more.”
Additionally, the division’s home schedule has been ramped up, with the Privateers playing Tulane University and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette this season at the Lakefront Arena, just down the road from UNO’s campus. Last season, both of these games were away, but the additional press coverage and a heavy-hitting roster of seniors on the team put the odds in favor of the Privateers.
“With the prevalence and emergence of online streaming services and us raising our schedule to a higher level, we’ve gotten a lot more attention,” said Ludwikowski. “Not only for ourselves, but obviously for the school as well.”
Ludwikowski said the newfound televised platform will serve as a marketing tool to encourage aspiring student athletes to attend the university. If the Privateers are able to win at, for example, a college basketball stomping ground like Chicago, the UNO athletics department could establish more of a presence nationally, ultimately “making the footprint of the university a little larger.”
Ludwikowski stated that UNO President John Nicklow has been integral to bringing these changes to fruition, adding that Nicklow’s athletic background makes him particularly cognizant of the athletic department’s needs.
“With Dr. Nicklow and his support of athletics, we’ll be doing some things we haven’t done in the past,” Ludwikowski said. In order to improve its student experience at basketball games this season, the university will be offering a shuttle for home games to and from the Lakefront Arena—another of the many exciting changes in store for UNO athletics.
“We have quite a bit of exposure. We’re getting better, it’s four years since we’ve been back in division one,” said Ludwikowski. “It’s kind of cumulated at the moment, and hopefully, this year we can win some games and take that to the next level.”
Students can take advantage of the new shuttle among other perks during the UNO men’s basketball season opener this Friday, Nov. 11 against LaGrange College at the Lakefront Arena. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.