In the wake of a tragedy, the Maui Invitational is returning to its roots.
UCLA is part of what might be the strongest field in the history of the tournament. Five of the top 10 teams in ESPN’s preseason poll — No. 1 Kansas, No. 3 Purdue, No. 7 Gonzaga, No. 8 Tennessee and No. 10 Marquette — will also participate alongside Syracuse and Chaminade. UCLA will face Marquette in the first round on Nov. 20, with either Kansas or Chaminade up next the following day.
The tournament got its start two years after Chaminade, then an NAIA school, upset top-ranked Virginia in 1982 in Honolulu in what remains widely considered the biggest upset in college basketball history. Chaminade was made the permanent host school of an event usually held inside the Lahaina Civic Center, with students being flown from Honolulu to Maui to support the Division II Silverswords.
While the Lahaina Civic Center was spared by the recent wildfires, the venue continues to serve as a hub for recovery efforts. Keeping the tournament in Hawaii, particularly at a larger arena that holds 10,300, will provide a way for event organizers to raise awareness and funds for those affected by the Maui wildfires.
“We are disappointed that we could not make the Lahaina Civic Center available for the Maui Invitational this year, but we are thankful the tournament is staying in Hawaii,” said Richard Bissen, mayor of Maui, in a statement. “We appreciate everything the Maui Invitational is doing to help Maui and its residents.”
Last week, the Maui Invitational launched a Hoops for ‘Ohana online auction featuring items donated by past tournament participants, with proceeds benefiting wildfire relief and recovery efforts. To learn more, visit mauiinvitational.com/hoopsforohana.
This is not the first time the Maui Invitational will be held at an alternate location; it was moved to Asheville, N.C., during the 2020-21 season because of COVID-19 restrictions in Hawaii.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.