Oregon coach Dana Altman (Getty Images)
Oregon had already printed tickets for the 2013-14 college basketball season when officials from Arkansas Pine Bluff called last week and backed out of their agreement to face the Ducks. Oregon sports information director Greg Walker confirmed that director of basketball operations Josh Jamieson had to call roughly a dozen schools before finally enticing Western Carolina to agree to play in return for a guarantee of $85,000 to $90,000.
That Oregon was able to find Western Carolina at such a late date is fortunate for the Ducks. The alternative was likely finding a local Division II or III school to replace Arkansas Pine Bluff.
The payday is also a nice coup for Western Carolina since it's $15,000 to $30,000 higher than the average sum a small-conference program would receive for agreeing to a road game against a high-profile school with no home game in return. Small-conference coaches will sometimes leave a date open on their schedule deep into September in hopes of getting a larger-than-average guarantee from a big-name school desperate to fill a vacancy on its schedule.
Why did Arkansas Pine Bluff back out of the game? That's not clear because Walker didn't know and a call to the Golden Lions' sports information office wasn't immediately returned, but one explanation could be that the logistics were too difficult. Arkansas Pine Bluff has a game against Tuskegee in Atlanta on Nov. 11 and a game at Oklahoma State on Nov. 15, which would have made for a hellacious travel schedule had the Golden Lions also visited Eugene in between.
Of course Western Carolina doesn't have it much better. The Catamounts will fly from Eugene directly to Blacksburg for a matchup with Virginia Tech on Nov. 15. Perhaps the lucrative check made that cross-country trip seem more palatable.
(Thanks, Andy Katz)
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