Odds are, a number of college basketball fans knew nothing about Fairleigh Dickinson University prior to the last week.
In fact, they may not have even known the small New Jersey private school, with an enrollment of around 12,000 students, even existed.
But it’s hard to ignore the Knights now. Not after they made history by becoming just the second 16 seed in NCAA Tournament history to knock off a No. 1 seed.
That’s March Madness for you.
Fairleigh Dickinson almost didn’t even get the opportunity. The 16th-seeded Knights snuck into the tournament as one of the final at-large bids after losing the NEC Conference Tournament final to Merrimack.
But they made the most of their opportunity.
FDU blew away Texas Southern, 84-61, in the play-in round. That set up a monster David vs. Goliath matchup with top-seeded Purdue.
Head coach Tobin Anderson, however, didn’t back down. Anderson told his players he believed they could go and beat Purdue.
And that’s just what they went and did.
The Knights stunned to Boilermakers, joining UMBC (in 2018 vs. Virginia) as 16th-seeded teams to knock off No. 1.
Ultimately, Fairleigh Dickinson’s run came to an end with a 78-70 loss to 9th-seeded Florida Atlantic in round two. But it was still the type of run that lives on in history.
However, there appears to be a catch.
Fairleigh Dickinson Under Fire For Use Of Student As Basketball SID
One of the most remarkable parts of FDU’s run is its Director of Athletic Media Relations, Jordan Sarnoff. Sarnoff is just a junior at the university and fills a role usually reserved for someone with far more experience.
The media relations director of Division I college basketball program is, without a doubt, a full-time gig. Some were amazed by Sarnoff’s story. But others felt it was a bit more insidious…
As great of an opportunity this is for Jordan and I hope it opens many doors for him, this def should not be glorified.
Colleges and universities nationwide should put money behind their athletic communications departments, not rely on underpaid student workers. https://t.co/s5pKmvtVzP
— berto (@albvrto_) March 20, 2023
With all that great work experience, he’s going to graduate into a job that pays $11.20/hour until they replace his job with a video guy or an intern.
This is not a feel good story. Ask any actual SID or former SID about it, and we can all see what’s going on here. https://t.co/eVU8A2oExb
— claybraham lincoln (@ClayLaSoul) March 20, 2023
Many believe the university is taking advantage of Sarnoff’s willingness to gain experience to avoid properly paying for the position.
Oh we’re having discourse on this finally?
This isn’t a feel good story about a smaller program on the big stage – it’s glorifying the way students and young professionals are exploited in college athletics (likely because they were too cheap to hire). https://t.co/aPMUQw4kL8
— Alli Pinter (@allipinter) March 20, 2023
Many collegiate athletic departments have someone like Jordan. This is what these kids want to experience.
This is a major issue though in all of college athletics. Athletic departments and universities need to value these roles and put money behind it. Not a student worker. https://t.co/B4fy5TSeA8
— andy b. (@andybowers_) March 20, 2023
While we at @CollSportsComm are all very proud of Jordan, this isn’t a typical setup nor should it be. Students are meant to help and learn from full-time staff members. They should not be the full-time staff member while being a full-time student. https://t.co/qnVYCkWbPN
— JessPoole (@JessPooleA2) March 20, 2023
Sarnoff’s LinkedIn page shows he also handles men’s soccer and women’s bowling sports information director duties. That’s a tall task. So what say you? Awesome experience? Unfair exploitation? Or a bit of both?