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Continued: In college hoops, ESPN often has the ultimate say

  • Article by: MIKE KASZUBA , Star Tribune
  • Last update: April 1, 2014 - 11:44 AM

Kerzner paid for the team’s travel to the Bahamas, provided hotel rooms at the Atlantis resort and catered pregame meals. The Gophers had to schedule an official warm-up game in Minnesota prior the Bahamas tournament, place a Battle 4 Atlantis logo on the floor of Williams Arena for the game and pay a team $75,000 to play in the warm-up game.

The school received more than $201,000 in revenue from the trip, but had nearly $190,000 in expenses.

The basketball court “was a really large ballroom,” said Eric Benson, a Gophers fan who went to the Bahamas tournament. Atlantis “was high quality. [But the game] seats were subpar. They were kind of rusted out. They were just cheap.”

Must travel for best games

Benson said such trips are unfair to most Gopher fans because in the early part of the season fans have to “pay thousands of dollars to go to the Bahamas” to see Minnesota play top-tier teams like Duke and Stanford. The team’s early-season home games in Minnesota, he said, typically have many “cupcake games.” Before going to the Bahamas, the Gophers played among others Minnesota State, Southwest Baptist and Toledo.

Benson said he paid close to $2,000 for the five-day trip.

There are advantages to accompanying the team. In Maui, Cheryl Anderson said she stayed at the same hotel the team was at, sat two rows behind the Gophers bench for the games and was personally thanked by Pitino for coming.

The Gophers have tentatively agreed with ESPN to appear again in Puerto Rico in 2015, this time for a late November tournament. The school will get $10,000 in travel money and 14 rooms and one suite at a hotel selected by ESPN.

The Gophers opponents in the games will be selected by ESPN.


Mike Kaszuba • 612-673-4388

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