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Holy Hoops
Holy Hoops

At Jesuit institutions, basketball gives religious tradition an assist

By Theresa Walker

Courtesy of AJCU

Call it a net gain: For the 28 Jesuit institutions across the United States, basketball is a fitting way to educate people about the faith, academic, and athletic traditions that link these campuses, says Joe Lunardi, assistant vice president for marketing communications at Pennsylvania's Saint Joseph's University, a member of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. (And yes, he's that Joe Lunardi, ESPN's bracketologist.) "It's an opportunity to use the great basketball tradition at these colleges and universities to bring more attention to the common characteristics of a Jesuit education."

For the 2013–14 basketball season, AJCU produced a one-minute video that showcases each institution by weaving photos from men's and women's games present and past—including action shots of the University of San Francisco's Bill Russell and Georgetown University's Patrick Ewing before they became NBA all-stars—with campus scenes of students working in the classroom, participating in service projects, and attending religious services. The video is shown in the arenas of AJCU institutions, as well as on their websites and YouTube channels, and highlights the role that these colleges and universities have played in basketball history. The script's closing line sums up the message: "Mission, mind, and body—on the court and off."

The video project is a new addition to the Jesuit Basketball Spotlight program that AJCU launched five years ago to raise awareness about these institutions' shared mission and athletic success. Other JBS program tools include sample scripts for game broadcasts and in-arena announcements, website and game program copy, and a logo that's available for use as a floor decal.

"There aren't many truly collective brands in higher education, but I think we're one of them," Lunardi says of the Jesuit institutions. "What unites us is far greater than what we compete over."

About the Author Theresa Walker Theresa Walker

Theresa Walker is a senior editor at Currents, where she covers the marketing and communications beat.




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