Saturday, April 13, 2024

March Madness 2024: UConn’s flight to Final Four in Arizona delayed due to mechanical issues with plane

UConn has not gotten on a plane once this postseason, and as of Wednesday night, that remained true. The No. 1 overall seed Huskies have been delayed out of Connecticut on account of mechanical issues with the plane they were scheduled to take Wednesday, UConn coach Dan Hurley told CBS Sports.

The NCAA oversees and handles all travel for all teams in both the men’s and women’s NCAA Tournaments. The plane UConn was supposed to be on was coming in from Kansas City but ran into multiple technical troubles that prevented it from leaving on time. 

Not only is UConn’s chartered flight running behind, Hurley told CBS Sports that the crew assigned to the flight would max it outs allowable work hours, per FAA guidelines. As of 7:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, there is no backup flight crew to take UConn to Arizona. After scouring all backup plans and planes, UConn’s earliest option to get to the Final Four is via a smaller plane (that would still bring the entire team and staff), but it isn’t scheduled to take off until 12:45 a.m. ET on Thursday morning. It wouldn’t land until nearly 5 a.m. ET/2 a.m. PT, per UConn. That plane needs to be brought in from Cincinnati

The NCAA said in a statement that it is working to solve UCon”s travel isues.

“Due to mechanical issues with the original aircraft, UConn men’s basketball team is experiencing a delay and is now projected to depart at approximately 11:30 p.m. ET,” the statement said. “In conjunction with the school and charter airlines, the NCAA worked to develop several options for travel alternatives to Phoenix. We are very disappointed that UConn will arrive later than anticipated and it’s unfortunate the team’s travel experience has been impacted.”

A smaller plane is currently scheduled to arrive from Cincinnati a little after 11 p.m. ET, per a UConn source. The school will have to trim its travel party, but will still be a flight time decision as far as refueling. “It’s going to come down to weight,” a UConn staff member told CBS Sports.

Because it’s a smaller plane, it would require a fuel stop at some point en route to Phoenix. The Huskies are going to get to Arizona with hours to spare before Thursday’s scheduled afternoon media availability. 

If it were to wait until the morning and fly on the plane from Kansas City, that crew can’t fly until 10 a.m. ET on Thursday, according to UConn.

All other teams are on the ground in Arizona. Alabama and Purdue got in Tuesday. NC State landed Wednesday afternoon. 

UConn is scheduled to play Alabama on Saturday at approximately 8:49 p.m. ET/5:49 local in Glendale. 

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