The selection was completely random. In a gym full of thousands of freshman, Andrew Schneeweis had the winning seat: section C, row 18, seat 5.
It took 47 feet, one well-placed throw and a few seconds for Schneeweis to win himself free tuition for an entire year.
“It was unreal. It hasn’t really hit me yet,” Schneeweis said.
CTV has an exclusive interview with Andrew Schneeweis, the student who made the half court shot worth a year’s tuition. Schneeweis said once the ball left his hand, he knew he had made the shot.
Watch as CSU student Andrew Schneeweis makes a half-court basketball shot to win free tuition for a year during a freshman pep rally.
The plan was to give Schneeweis three chances to sink the shot but after only one attempt, his throw sent the net swishing and set a gym full of students cheering.
“Everyone cheering for me, that was awesome. I was in shock. It was so cool, just on the first shot too,” Schneeweis said.
The rally was a new event for CSU freshmen – a collaboration between the CSU Athletics Department and the Student Affairs office. The “Tuition Shot” was not planned until the morning before, according to Deputy Athletic Director John Morris.
“I said, ‘Hey don’t you think it’d be fun to do a half court shot for tuition?’” Morris said.
His idea became reality after the four head coaches agreed.
Men’s basketball coach Larry Eustachy, women’s basketball coach Ryun Williams, football coach Jim McElwain and volleyball coach Tom Hilbert signed on to pay one year’s in-state tuition if the chosen student could make the shot.
“The coaches get all the credit,” Morris said. “They all said how much they appreciate what students mean to our programs.”
The kicker? Every cent — approximately $8,000 according to Morris — will come from their pockets but they were happy to see Schneeweis make the shot.
“They loved it,” Morris said. “They were all smiling.”
The coaches assumed the odds were in their favor, according to Williams, but there were no regrets that Schneeweis rose to the challenge.
“We’re going to dig in our pockets to help him out,” Williams said.
Schneeweis, a native of Greenwood Village, Colo., was anticipating the full cost of tuition before he made the shot. He did not have scholarship money and had already taken out loans in anticipation of fall semester costs.
“They said they’re working to disperse my loan money,” Schneeweis said. “It’s going to save me some debt.”
When Schneeweis called his mom, she didn’t believe him.
“I was like mom I have a free year of tuition and she said ‘Oh it sounds like you’re having a great time.’ I had her on speaker phone in my hall and she said ‘Oh I’ll talk to you later.’” Schneeweis said.
He sent his mom the video as proof and at 3 a.m. his dad called to join in the celebration.
“It’s an unbelievable gift,” Schneeweis said.
“I think he jumped three feet in the air. I don’t think he even believed it happened,” said Sophie Gedion, Schneeweis’s Ram Welcome Leader.
Gedion sat right next to him at the rally and was even pulled aside prior to the shot. According to Gedion, she feigned surprise when Schneeweis’s name was called to take the shot.
“We should’ve rushed the court after it happened,” Gedion said.
The footage shows the celebration after the shot.
“It was heartwarming to see (Schneeweis) run around and hug the coaches,” Morris said.
“The great thing about it is that it was the inaugural event and you had great energy in the building and then, right off the bat, Andrew makes the shot,” Hilbert said in a media statement.
“It created a little bit of magic to the whole night that helped everybody get excited.”
Keith Albertson contributed to this story.
Collegian Senior Reporter Mariah Wenzel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.