The Liberty Flames trailed by double-digits to No. 5 seed Mississippi State before charging late for an 80-76 upset Friday night in the NCAA Tournament. It was the school’s first-ever tournament win, setting up a Sunday showdown with the 4th-seeded Virginia Tech Hokies (7:10 p.m. EST, TBS).
How far did Liberty have to travel to make it to the San Jose this weekend? The university campus is located in Lynchburg, a city of 81,000 in the western part of Virginia. It sits 2,700-plus miles from the Bay Area.
Established in 1971, the university holds a student body over 75 thousand, including approximately 47 thousand undergraduates. The endowment is $1.29 billion, accumulated over the last 4 decades since Rev. Jerry Falwell founded it.
His son, Jerry Falwell, Jr., serves as the school’s current president. Liberty is infused with the Falwell’s background of evangelical Christian values, which has led some publications such as Deadspin to denounce it. The criticism also extends to the athletic department, which hired Ian McCaw, the former Baylor athletic director who oversaw that university’s rape scandal.
Liberty also has a nasty habit of hiring disgraced sports men to run its programs and mold young men into the shape of Christ or whatever. Last year, Liberty hired football coach Hugh Freeze, the former Ole Miss coach who resigned after he was caught being incredibly horny and hiring escorts during football recruiting trips. (Wonder what Liberty’s student handbook says about hiring escorts??) Before that, Liberty brought on former Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw, who oversaw the now-exiled football coach Art Briles. Both men were implicated in Baylor’s years-long failure to report and stop rapes by football players.
Famous Liberty Alumni
Outside of the Falwells, Liberty has several notable alumni. Super Bowl XLII MVP Nick Foles, currently the starting quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars, is earning his graduate degree at the Rawlings School of Divinity.
Foles has been bold about his faith during his football career, indicating that he would like to be a youth pastor someday. As the Eagles were presented with the Vince Lombardi Trophy, Foles held his infant daughter, Lily, and said, “Being here with my daughter, my wife, my teammmates, my city, we’re very blessed.” At the post-game press conference, he said God gets the glory. “I wouldn’t be out here without God, without Jesus in my life. I can tell you that, first and foremost in my life, I don’t have the strength to come out here and play a game like that. It’s an everyday walk.”
Additional alumni include the Portland Trail Blazers’ Seth Curry and ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown host Samantha Ponder.