By Daniel C. Houston
University administrators approved the sale of 50 more student travel packages to this weekend’s NCAA tournament games in Atlanta after the first 100 sold out Tuesday afternoon.
The $100 packages cover travel expenses, hotel rooms and tickets to Baylor men’s basketball’s Friday matchup against Xavier University, as well as the Kentucky-Indiana game and the Elite Eight matchup between the winners of the two games if Baylor advances.
The additional packages will be available for purchase at 8 a.m. today at the Bill Daniel Student Center ticket office, according to John Garrison, associate athletics director for marketing.
“The Sweet 16 is a big deal,” Garrison said, “so having students at the arena in Atlanta will hopefully bring back a couple of wins for us.”
The university is offering the packages at a discounted price to students, with university sources covering the extra costs, according to Nick Joos, executive associate athletics director for external affairs.
Joos estimates about two-thirds of the cost is covered by the basketball team’s donor-supported excellence fund and the athletics department.
The idea to help students cover the cost of a trip to Atlanta stemmed from a conversation between Joos, head coach Scott Drew, director of athletics Ian McCaw and President Ken Starr while returning from Baylor’s win over Colorado in the second round of the tournament.
Joos said Drew was impressed with the level of support Colorado had from students during that game and wanted that student presence to be a factor for Baylor going forward.
“I think that the students when they come to our games bring great energy,” Joos said, “and I think that any energy we can have in the building [will help the team] get from the Sweet Sixteen to the Elite Eight.”
Houston sophomore Chad Reeter purchased one of the packages Tuesday.
He said the discounted cost made it much more convenient for him to make the trip and attend the games, considering the plane ticket alone would have cost him three times the price of Baylor’s offering.
Although he was exploring the possibility of going to the games either way, Reeter thinks having the extra 150 students will further inspire the basketball team to excel on the court.
“I think it would get a lot crazier, a lot more wild if there’s a bunch of kids going,” Reeter said. “There’s going to be a little student section there. I think it will help.”
The buses for the trip will leave at 5 p.m. Thursday and return Saturday in the event of a loss or Monday if Baylor advances. Class absences during the trip will be unexcused.