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      Syracuse University hopes athletics drive potential students

      Syracuse University saw a 10% increase in applications following the 2003 NCAA Championship, and hopes to see a similar increase next year.

      Syracuse University is hoping the success of its men's basketball team in the NCAA Final Four will help to draw more attention to the school and bring in potential students.

      According to Don Saleh, Syracuse University's Vice President of Enrollment Services, applications jumped 10% following Syracuse's 2003 NCAA Championship. That increase is partially credited to the basketball team's success.

      Saleh says its athletic program is not the main factor driving most students to the university, but it does help. "It is something that unifies the student body and raises school spirit and excitement," said Saleh. "So you don't have to be an athlete to be moved by this. So I think it has an impact."

      One prospective student visiting the campus on Monday afternoon is looking at the team's performance this season as she chooses a college. "I think it's really important because it exemplifies how much school spirit they have here," said Shoshana Feld, a high school senior. "And, obviously, you can see on campus, everyone is wearing their Syracuse gear."

      Another student interested in studying magazine journalism sees the basketball team as a bonus. "It definitely makes it more fun, and the other schools I've looked at don't have as much of an athletic base to them, so it's not going to make or break my decision, but it definitely makes it a little more fun," said Leah Fagan.

      Saleh also estimates that if Syracuse wins the national championship this year, enrollment will see an increase next year. Saleh says the university receives approximately 28,000 applications each year, but predicts that number could jump to 31,000 or 32,000, if the team brings home a national title.