SPOKANE, Wash. -- San Diego State needed overtime to beat New Mexico State on Thursday night and then, afterward, Aztecs’ Coach Steve Fisher asked for extra time to gets some things off his chest.
Fisher criticized the NCAA for sending the loser, in this case New Mexico State, home directly after an exciting game that ended around 10:30 p.m. in Spokane.
“It’s disgraceful," Fisher said at his postgame news conference.
Knowing the losing team could have been his team, Fisher said he called the NCAA on Friday to ask if his players could spend the night in Spokane and fly home Friday. Fisher said he was told the NCAA couldn’t find any charter planes.
Fisher said that was the wrong answer.
“With the billions of dollars that we have here for them not to find a way to accommodate these kids, the student athletes, you can’t tell me they couldn’t find charter planes,” Fisher said.
After a bitter, hard-fought defeat, New Mexico State had to fly straight back to Las Cruces, N.M.
Fisher said an NCAA administrator should have to fly back with the losing team.
“See what it’s like to get home at 5 in the morning,” Fisher said. “It shouldn’t happen.”
As noted by Mark Zeigler of the San Diego Union Tribune, Fisher has had his issues with the NCAA and travel. Last year, after a bitter loss to No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast in the NCAA tournament, the San Diego State squad had to make a grueling trip home from Philadelphia.
The plane got diverted by weather and had to refuel in San Antonio. The all-night trip took 10 hours and the team didn’t get back to San Diego until sunrise.
“We can say we want to do all these things for the benefit of the student-athletes, but you play a game like we did tonight and you get to the airport at 1 in the morning?” Fisher asked. “Come on. Come on.”
San Diego State plays North Dakota State on Saturday. The winner advances to next week’s West Regional semifinals in Anaheim.