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The prank would be unthinkable to even try in 2018 — and almost certainly straight-up impossible to complete.

“We couldn’t get away with this today,” Maguire University Chancellor Art Duffy says to a crowd of 30 Maguire “students” at a Mexican restaurant overlooking San Antonio’s Riverwalk. Dos Equis in hand, Duffy laughs. He knows he’s right.

Maguire University isn’t a real school. It doesn’t exist in the traditional sense. There is no campus. There are no professors. There are no athletic venues. The enrollment consists of over a hundred fans, ranging from ages 17 to 90. Class is only in session for the Final Four.

“I’m a double major in inebriation,” one student boasts.

If you walked by the group, it would almost resemble a family reunion. Or a large group of old friends picking up right where they left off. They’re bound together by that unthinkable prank: Creating a fake university for the purpose of getting free Final Four tickets and then successfully tricking the NCAA.

The school may be fake, but the Maguire logo is prevalent — even stamped on the Riverwalk’s stone walkway.

Andrew Joseph/USA TODAY Sports

John Carey, a Hall of Fame high school coach from New York, is wearing a 50th anniversary Maguire jacket from the 2012 trip to New Orleans. He’s the school’s “IT director” because he still has a flip phone. Appropriately Irish-colored Maguire University pins (with clovers) are scattered on the table. Some students are wearing their official Maguire drinking jerseys.

They’re taking the “We Play Hurt” Maguire motto to heart.

It’s the first night of the weekend Maguire students look forward to all year — “The Final Five” — their annual trip to the Final Four. This year is especially meaningful. The Loyola-Chicago Ramblers are in the Final Four for the first time since Maguire’s inaugural trip in 1963. The sentiments can wait for now. Duffy is standing at the head of the table, waiting to continue his speech.

“Once everyone gets a drink, we’ll start,” Duffy announces to the group’s delight.

What else should I expect of a weekend with college basketball’s most notorious fake school? The camaraderie has kept Maguire going strong for nearly six decades.

This year’s trip is different because the Ramblers are here again. Saturday night, when the Ramblers can’t keep up with Michigan, ends with plenty of apple cider moonshine. Because the Jollymen of Maguire always live up to their name.

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