Over the last several weeks, I enjoyed watching each game with my wife Mariama, a Butler graduate, as the Butler Bulldogs made it to their first NCAA Final. The loss of our hometown team certainly stung, but at the end of the day, it was a great ride and this community was ecstatic to be a part of it. The game itself was nothing short of epic. Fifteen lead changes. One score separating the teams throughout most of the game. Two shots to win it in the final 13 seconds.
But even more important was what Butler and Duke represent academically. Both are top-notch institutions that recruit players who want to succeed on and off the court. In this time of large athletic programs focusing more on attracting pro prospects as opposed to true student athletes, having a championship game feature two schools with 90-percent-plus graduation rates sends a positive message that should be embraced. And I think it was.
The national spotlight allowed the entire country to be introduced to the “Butler Way”—a focus on character, toughness, selflessness and team. The nation responded by rooting hard for the Bulldogs. While Duke took home the National Championship, Butler captured the hearts and minds of people across America.
I’ll vote to support the resolution honoring the Blue Devils. It’s the classy thing to do…and I represent the classiest college basketball program in America.
But mark my word. The Bulldogs will continue to win their way—the Butler Way. And they’ll be back running with the big dogs next year.