SDSU's Fisher Calls NCAA "Disgraceful" For Sending Teams Home In Middle Of The Night
San Diego State men's basketball coach Steve Fisher following the team's win over New Mexico State in the NCAA Tournament Thursday night publically complained about the NCAA's policy forcing teams to fly home immediately after a loss regardless of time, according to Mark Zeigler of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. Fisher said that he earlier in the week had requested that if SDSU lost to NMSU, the team's players spend the night in Spokane, Wash., where the game was being played. The squad would then "fly home on the NCAA-supplied charter Friday morning." Fisher instead "was told no and called NCAA officials in the hours before Thursday’s game to protest." Fisher said in his postgame press conference, "New Mexico State has to do this. They didn’t want to go home, either. But they have to go home tonight. It’s disgraceful -- for the billions of dollars that we have here, for them not to find a way to accommodate these kids, the student athletes. You can’t tell me they couldn’t find charter planes (Friday). We can say we want to do all these things for the benefit of the student athletes, but you play a game like we did tonight and you get to the airport at 1 in the morning? Come on, come on. I would like to have (an NCAA administrator) at every site and say, ‘You’re going to ride home with that losing team.’ And see what it’s like to get home at 5 in the morning" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 3/21).
COMING TO FISHER'S SIDE: ESPN’s Jay Bilas, who has been outspoken against the NCAA, agreed with Fisher’s comments and said, "It's a multi-billion dollar property. We can and should do better." Bilas: "In fairness to the NCAA on this, I heard from a former employee from the NCAA that said that there is a reason for this, even though he tends to agree with this as well, that there are 16 teams to move around in pretty short order. Men’s teams, 16 women’s teams, some NIT teams that have to be moved around, and there are not as many charters available since 9/11. They’re greatly reduced." While the "excuse or reason that a charter wasn’t available is true," Bilas wonders if that should "take precedence" for a multi-billion dollar property. Bilas: "Should that be the first thing that’s done? I think so, but reasonable minds could differ on that” (“Mike & Mike”, ESPN Radio, 3/21).