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Despite football loss, University of Utah leaders hope to capitalize off national exposure

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Friday’s University of Utah football loss to the Oregon Ducks in the PAC-12 Championship game can still mean huge things for the university. (Photo: KUTV)

Friday’s University of Utah football loss to the Oregon Ducks in the PAC-12 Championship game can still mean huge things for the university.

Millions of people across the country watched, exposing what the school has to offer to a national audience. School leaders said just from being on TV, they expect online searches to go up and new interest to follow.

All week long at the campus book store, things were busy as people bought shirts, hats and jerseys.

“A lot of people have been coming in during the week just to buy gear for the game,” said Sage Carson, a student who works the register.

Athletic Director Mark Harlan said before the game that wins or loses, the entire school benefits adding “I had an executive tell me this could be the most-watched Utah sporting event in history.”

University communications director Chris Nelson said the school has already sold double the amount of gear in the first week of December than the same time last year adding “college football is such a unifier for this campus, it doesn’t matter if you're a family member or a student whether you're even into football or not.”

Nelson said there's a team already in place to study how best to take advantage of being on the national stage.

“We hope to see maybe an increase in admissions, people interested in the university, we know donations go up when our football team does well,” Nelson said.

The school got to run its institutional ad during the game, which they hope will help with outside interest. Nelson said a pop-up store in the hotel lobby in California, where the game was played, sold $25,000 today in merchandise on Friday alone.