SAN DIEGO – The NCAA apologized to New Mexico State and said it will evaluate its travel policy after the Aggies had to fly home in the middle of the night following their second-round tournament loss and were met by only one bus at the airport.
Athletic director McKinley Boston said in a phone interview with the AP on Monday that he received a call during the weekend from Dan Gavitt, vice president of the men’s basketball championship.
“He said it was inconsistent with their effort to provide the full NCAA experience,” Boston said. “He was disappointed that our experience wasn’t a positive one and that they would do everything possible to evaluate it and try to make sure the experience going forward was adequate.”
NMSU and San Diego State were told before Thursday’s game in Spokane that the loser would have to fly home that night. The game started later than scheduled because the North Dakota State-Oklahoma game went into overtime, and then the Aggies and Aztecs went to overtime. San Diego State won.
After coach Marvin Menzies and the players fulfilled their postgame interview obligations, the team, pep band and cheerleaders went back to the hotel 15 miles east of downtown Spokane and quickly packed while hotel employees prepared 70 box lunches. The Aggies arrived at the airport, which is west of downtown, at about 1 a.m. The plane departed at about 2:15 a.m. and arrived in El Paso, Texas, at about 7 a.m.
Only one bus was waiting. The team and some boosters were bused to Las Cruces, N.M., while everyone else had to wait for the bus to make the 2 1/2-hour round trip to pick them up.
SDSU coach Steve Fisher had ripped into the NCAA over the policy in his postgame news conference.