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The Virginian-Pilot(Norfolk, VA.)
October 30, 2013 Wednesday
The Virginian-Pilot Edition
SPORTS; Pg. C1
|Canceled opener prompts spartans to pack for houston
By David Hall
A first for Norfolk State basketball coach Robert Jones: When he checked his email Friday, he was stunned to learn his team's season opener had vanished.
The Spartans were slated to begin the 2013-14 campaign against Texas Southern on Nov. 8 in the inaugural HBCU Tip-Off Championship in Atlanta. But an email from tournament organizers told Jones the event had been postponed until next season due to a lack of sponsor support.
The postponement was announced publicly without a clear explanation on Tuesday.
"We've never had a tournament just get canceled on us," Jones said, "especially two weeks before we're supposed to play."
Jones, who handled scheduling for six years as an assistant before becoming head coach, was left scrambling.
In a deal reached Tuesday morning, the Spartans will open at Texas Southern in Houston on Nov. 9. A tournament game scheduled that day against Arkansas-Pine Bluff will not be made up.
Texas Southern will visit NSU next season.
Tournament CEO Kevin Clayton didn't return phone calls seeking comment Tuesday, but Jones said Friday's email explained that a sponsor committed to covering the teams' travel expenses had backed out.
"In order to maintain the ability to deliver our program now and in the future, it became necessary to postpone until 2014," Clayton said in a statement issued through NSU's athletic department. "We remain committed to building awareness and support for the HBCU community, its student-athletes and athletic programs."
The tournament had agreed to cover travel costs. NSU had submitted a list of names in its traveling party, but no arrangements had been made, Jones said.
The trip to Houston will cost the school between $15,000 and $20,000, Jones estimated.
The HBCU Tip-Off was to be played at Philips Arena, the home of the Atlanta Hawks. On Tuesday evening, a clock on the tournament's website counting down until its start was still counting.
The eight-team event, according to its website, "was born out of a vacancy in the HBCU sports community" and designed to create exposure for participating programs.
Other teams scheduled to play were Virginia Union, Tuskegee, Green Bay, Morehouse and Johnson C. Smith.
Texas Southern, of the in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, went 17-14 last season.
October 30, 2013