But Fitzgibbon has welcomed other reality programs, including TLC's "Perfect Proposal," and he is hoping the Lincoln campus will make the cut for a new WB show called "Big Man on Campus."
Many colleges won't touch reality TV, for fear its sometimes shallow, drunken and libidinous characters are not the best ambassadors of campus life.
But in the cutthroat world of college marketing, Nebraska is one of a growing number of schools tolerating, and even selectively welcoming, the TV fad.
"The recruiting market, it's insane right now," said Fitzgibbon, Nebraska's director of news and video services. "I'm really of the mind that any coverage, good or bad, is good coverage, especially because we're here in Nebraska. People on the coasts tend to see us as flyover country. Just getting our name out there puts us on the map."
For many budget-strapped colleges, reality TV is advertising they could never afford.
"Colleges that fight for visibility, most of them have no natural medium for it," said Christopher Small, executive vice president of GDA Integrated Services, which gives marketing advice to more than 300 schools. "The anguishing decision always is, is some publicity better than no publicity?"
The evidence is mixed.
"After that, we all were like, is this really worth it?" said Cynthia Schmidt, the Richmond school's director of marketing.
Often, schools say they are approached only after students have signed up, so the only question is whether or not the finished product will include shots of the campus. When a University of North Texas librarian tried to pass as a bartender at a sultry New Orleans saloon for TLC's "Faking It," nobody asked the school's permission to feature her, just to shoot in the library (which the school granted).
At UC Davis, school officials say they cooperated with "Sorority Life" to protect students, but to little avail.
"At the time we felt it would help the sorority if we permitted MTV to come on campus so that there was at least a chance they would be portrayed more wholly," said Maril Stratton, the school's assistant chancellor for communications. "Maybe catch them in class. What a novel idea!"
Instead, she said, the show barely filmed on campus, though it did put up the sisters in a Las Vegas penthouse and built a temporary spa in their back yard.
"I don't think MTV ever really did show them in the fullness and reality of their lives," Stratton said.
At Buffalo, where both "Sorority Life" and "Fraternity Life" filmed a season, administrators gathered every Monday afternoon around a conference room television, popped a bowl of popcorn and nervously watched an advance tape of that week's episode.
"We had our bumps and bruises," said Vice President of Student Affairs Dennis Black, recounting the zoo break-in and the students who were punished with community service. "It wasn't a Mom-and-apple-pie presentation. There was some reality to it."
But on balance, Black said, the experience was positive. Not only did applications rise, but alumni called to say how good the campus looked. Somehow, MTV never showed snow on the ground.
By Justin Pope