INDIANAPOLIS — The Auburn Tigers had a rough start to the 2022 NCAA Tournament weekend. Unfortunately, the team plane that was chartered had to divert from their original flight plan thanks to mechanical problems.
The Tigers took off from the Auburn-Opelika airport this evening, but were forced to turn around not long into their flight due to problems with the aircraft. The team was headed to Greenville, SC, for the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament, with them scheduled to play on Friday against Jacksonville State.
I reached out to head coach Bruce Pearl about the issues and he had this to say.
“We’re getting on a couple small planes and a bus. We will get in tonight! All good.”
I am told that Auburn decided to use a few private planes to get the players to the tournament site tonight, while other staffers, along with all the gear, will travel by bus. The players are scheduled to arrive before midnight and the bus will arrive a few hours later.
The team is scheduled to practice at 9:30am on Thursday.
— Auburn Basketball (@AuburnMBB) March 17, 2022
This news tonight comes after a bit of craziness involving the Indiana Hoosiers, according to Zach Osterman. After beating Wyoming on Tuesday night in Dayton, Ohio, the team was scheduled to fly straight to Portland, Oregon. Well, once the team got to the airport, they realized that the plane was not big enough for the traveling party, so they had to wait on another plane to arrive.
After waiting around the airport for over three hours, the team finally took off from Dayton and did not land in Portland till almost 4:30 am. Indiana is scheduled to play Saint Mary’s on Thursday, so they it has been a very long few days for the Hoosiers.
The NCAA does pay for all travel when it comes to tournament teams. In the case of Tennessee, it was reported that they did not wait for the NCAA to find them a plane earlier in the week and chartered their own after some teams, including Longwood, experienced a few hours of back-and-forth with the NCAA on their travel plans.
Great to hear that everyone in the Auburn travel party is safe.