Courtesy of the NCAA, we may have a winner for the most tone deaf memo of January 2015. Amazingly, the topic is aircraft charters for basketball teams.
It seems the NCAA cannot find enough airlines willing to charter aircraft for the men's and women's NCAA Basketball Tournaments in March, at least at reasonable prices. In a memo sent Wednesday to coaches and athletics directors, the NCAA's two vice presidents of basketball championships warned of "unprecedented issues related to charter availability."
"While challenging every year, the lack of charter availability in 2014 was the worst the NCAA experienced in the last 15 years," the NCAA officials wrote. "The lack of availability can be traced to several items, which include new crew regulations from the FAA, carrier issues such as bankruptcies and mergers, and simple supply and demand."
Reading this memo, you get the feeling that the people who schedule team charters for universities are a bunch of prima donnas. It spoke more than once about the "hardships" teams will have to go through in March and April.
"As we face these travel challenges together, we respectfully ask that all teams be flexible in their requests and recognize there are larger issues at stake than just arrangements for individual teams," the memo states.
Does anyone feel bad for the NCAA? College basketball administrators do realize there are more important matters than whether the Kentucky Wildcats have a seamless travel experience, right? Is it necessary for the memo to talk about "hardships"? Is the NCAA aware that some students have trouble simply affording tuition?
One particularly tone deaf section of the memo details the new procedures the NCAA will follow when scheduling basketball charters. In the past, it sounds like teams could essentially schedule charters when they wanted. Now, however, there will be rules.
I've listed the two new rules for men's basketball below, and they don't sound so arduous to me. You may need a basic grasp of how the basketball tournaments work to understand what they're saying, however.
- For the second-round (Thursday/Friday), teams that play games with a tip-off scheduled before 3 p.m. local time may be required to travel home post game. Departures will be scheduled for as early as seven hours after scheduled tip-off and up to as late as 10 pm. local time, so there will be ample time for the team to visit family members, check out of the hotel, and have a team meal.
- Teams that have a scheduled tip-off of 3 p.m. or later local time will have return flights scheduled for the next day. These departures will be scheduled as early as practical based on the team's game time, but teams should be aware that departures may be scheduled as late as 10 p.m. local time. Teams with late departure times will be paid per diem for the additional day and have rooms secured for late check-out.
"We understand these changes and requests are less than optimal and will have an impact on you," the memo states. "However, there are no other events at the national level that present the logistical challenges our tournaments create, and we must adjust to the realities of the current charter marketplace..."
Those changes don't seem so bad to me. What about you?
Below, for your enjoyment, you can read the whole memo.
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