Plane shortage could impact stays at NCAA tournament

Wednesday January 21st, 2015

Teams in the men's and women's NCAA basketball tournaments this year could see some travel issues because of a shortage of charter aircraft, ESPN's Dana O'Neil reports.

Some teams could be forced to stay in town for an extra day before flying back to campus, depending on what time their game ends.

The problem could occur the most during the first weekend, where the number of teams will be just too much to handle. The women's tournament is moving its opening day to Friday from Saturday, which will magnify the plane shortage.

If a team in the men's tournament loses a game before 3 p.m., it will be able to leave at some point that day. For the teams that drop a contest after 3 p.m., they will not leave until the next day, but the NCAA will pick up the bill for the added hotel stay in the city. 

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On the women's side, teams playing Friday might not be able to leave until 10 p.m. on Wednesday.

A memo was sent out last week explaining the potential issues and how they will be rectified, and that memo was explained by NCAA men's basketball tournament vice president Dan Gavitt. 

"The intent of the memo and the communication is to try and change and reset expectations," Gavitt said. "We have situations where we can't get a team back to campus as late as 10 the next night, but the alternative is that we cheapen the experience for the student-athletes by rushing them out the door."

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This problem was brought to the forefront last year when New Mexico State lost to San Diego State and practically was pushed out of town, with only one bus waiting for it after arriving in El Paso, Texas, at 7 a.m.

Jack Jorgensen

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