UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski says his basketball team sent a powerful message with its historic win Friday over No. 1 seed Virginia.
“They showed the country that you don’t write someone off,” Hrabowski said Saturday morning, speaking by phone from North Carolina.
In the hours after No. 16 seed UMBC’s stunning upset in the NCAA tournament — a first in men’s basketball history — Hrabowski said messages of congratulations poured in from elected officials, business leaders and fellow university presidents. He didn’t get any sleep until 6:30 a.m.
“The only word I can think of is ‘surreal,’ ” he said.
Hrabowski said he is thrilled about the attention the school is receiving from around the country.
I was enjoying a late dinner with friends at Peter Luger Steak House in Brooklyn, N.Y. — the sizzling plates of porterhouse in full command of my attention — when the familiar name began bubbling out of lips at surrounding tables. UMBC, UMBC, UMBC.
“People began to Google us and to see the academic achievements,” he said. “That’s what’s so wonderful for us … It is by far the greatest source of visibility we have had in the history of the university.”
One alumnus in Seattle told him about celebrating the win with colleagues at Amazon.
“From a potential employer like Amazon to other university presidents to elected officials,” he said, “all of them saw us visually on TV.”