When its basketball team beat the number one team in the first round of the NCAA tournament, a small college in New Jersey shocked the country, and maybe even itself.
On Friday night, a 16-seed team from Madison, New Jersey, Fairleigh Dickinson University, beat a 1-seed team from Purdue University, 63-58. ESPN says that this was the first time in five years and only the second time in history that a No. 16 team beat a No. 1.
Before making history by beating the Boilermakers on a national stage, the school was in a bit of a rush to get ready.
FDU doesn’t have its own marching band, so after getting help from a high school band in its game against Texas Southern, the University of Dayton sent its Flyers pep band to FDU to quickly learn the school’s fight song before its game against the Boilermakers. Cole Joniak, a trombone player, told ESPN that they only learned FDU’s fight song a few minutes before the game started.
FDU doesn't have a band, so the University of Dayton's band stepped up to help cheer on the Knights ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/k4vupCpwYo
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) March 20, 2023
But it was funny that the FDU players didn’t know their own song and didn’t recognize it at first when Dr. Willie Morris, UD’s longtime band director, started up the band.
“Hey, guys, this is your fight song,” I had to tell them. You might want to applaud,” “He told the Dayton Daily News that. “We played it for them so many times tonight that I think they finally understand it.”
Morris said that he knew the FDU players were good, but that he thought “Purdue would be able to handle that.” This meant that he didn’t think Purdue would face FDU in the next round. But when it became clear that they were going to beat the odds and win, his band started to believe the FDU hype.
“They cheered for Fairleigh Dickinson all the time. They cheered for them just like they do for the Flyers “He thought back. “As time wound down, they got louder and got the crowd really into it. People really liked the band.”
Before FDU’s next game against Florida Atlantic University, the Flyers pep band wore their own clothes. But before that game, they put on FDU “Going Dancing” t-shirts and brought plastic swords (a nod to FDU’s mascot, the Knights), so they could be seen as part of FDU’s cheering section.
Morris said, “We kind of changed the words to the “Go Dayton Flyers” cheer to their school.”
Jordan Sarnoff is currently a junior at FDU, but he's already working as the Director of Athletic Media Relations for @FDUKnightsMBB, among other sports. @JamieErdahl has the story. pic.twitter.com/LBxqU237Ov
— March Madness Men’s Basketball TV (@MM_MBB_TV) March 20, 2023
FDU junior Jordan Sarnoff also helped a small school get noticed on a national level. He was the school’s full-time Director of Athletic Media Relations for basketball and other sports.
March Madness Men’s Basketball TV took a video of Sarnoff proudly sitting in the media row to cheer on his school.