Louisiana Football Team Stranded in Airport for 24 Hours
If you've ever had to spend the night on an airport floor because of a missed flight connection then you can empathize with what some 140 members of a Louisiana college football program experienced over the weekend. To make matters worse, because the game was part of the NCAA FCS Playoffs it was the National Collegiate Athletic Association that was in charge of all the travel and true NCAA style, they left the student-athletes out in the cold. Not literally, but pretty darn close.
Here's the way the weekend unfolded for the Nicholls State University Colonels. The Colonels were on the road to participate in the FCS Playoffs opening round. The Colonels were scheduled to face Southern Illinois on Saturday afternoon. The game was played at 2 pm. Unfortunately for Nicholls and their fans, the game did not end well. The final score was Southern Illinois 35 and Nicholls State 0.
Following the game the travel party from Nicholls State was transported to West Marion Illinois airport. They arrived at 6:15 pm in anticipation of boarding an 8 pm charter flight back home. Unfortunately, the pilot of the aircraft drove off the runway while making a turn and they prompted an investigation by the FAA. This meant the team had a plane but no one to fly it since FAA drug screens for pilots take about 12 hours to conclude.
After a few calls were made to the NCAA, Short's Travel Management who handles the NCAA travel arrangements, the University President, and others the team was told that a plane would be arriving at 1:40 am to take the team back to Nicholls.
Meanwhile, the airport like many small airports has basically closed. And there are not enough hotel rooms to accommodate the team and the support staff. Fortunately, the team was able to get water and order pizza but that only lasted a short while. Then came the news that the 1:40 am flight was canceled because of weather concerns at its departing destination. So, the team spent the night at the airport.
The following morning the Southern Illinois Athletic Department sent over snacks and Gatorade and the NCAA did spring for lunch for the team. From what we understand the Colonels were able to board a flight at 6 pm on Sunday afternoon and they arrived in New Orleans just before 9 pm.
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Gallery Credit: Bruce Mikells