UPDATE: The University of Louisville told WDRB this morning that the NCAA reached out to the university to offer a travel waiver to men's players to travel to the women's game. The offer came too late, however, to alter travel plans for the players, who are set to arrive back in Louisville early Tuesday afternoon. Coaches will not travel with the players. They are en route to the women's national championship game in New Orleans, along with many senior administrators.
ATLANTA (WDRB) -- The University of Louisville men's basketball players wanted to travel to New Orleans to watch the women's team play for a national championship on Tuesday.
Several players are frequent attendees of women's games, particularly Gorgui Dieng and Russ Smith.
The teams have been having watch parties for the other's games. U of L men's coach Rick Pitino plans to go to the women's game, and texts back and forth with women's coach Jeff Walz often.
After winning a national championship on Monday night, the U of L men's players asked coaches if they could attend the women's game in New Orleans.
"Our players asked," U of L coach Rick Pitino said. "And we asked the NCAA, but they said no. Apparently it would be an NCAA violation. They said it would be an extra benefit to the players."
So U of L's players will return to campus. And the NCAA misses an opportunity to show a positive -- men's and women's sports, supporting each other.
It's hard to see where U of L would gain a competitive advantage. NCAA officials have yet to respond to an email asking for comment.
And as someone who has tried to get explanations from NCAA officials on various matters this weekend, I doubt whether they can offer a coherent one anyway.
The NCAA likes to talk a good game about women's sports. Compare the infrastructure of the men's and women's Final Fours and you'll find it's just that. Talk.
U of L's men's players cannot logistically make the game in New Orleans on their own. Between their NCAA-arranged flight home to Louisville, buying their own tickets and turning around on another flight to New Orleans, there's no chance.
The NCAA had a chance to use this unusual circumstance to show support among men's and women's athletics.