January 26, 2023

The Las Vegas Invitational women’s college basketball tournament was a joke

Image for article titled A Las Vegas women’s college basketball tournament provided a court, and almost nothing else

Photo: Getty Images

Apparently Ja Rule was called for advice on how to set up a college basketball tournament, because just like Fyre Fest, this Thanksgiving tournament was not all what it was advertised to be.

The Las Vegas Invitational featured a top-10 women’s basketball program in sixth-ranked Indiana. The Hoosiers played against Auburn in a ballroom at the Mirage Hotel and Casino. From the pictures, it looked like a YMCA game masquerading as a major college basketball contest.

According to the Big Ten Network’s Megan McKeown, players were advised to bring towels to the game from their hotel rooms because the tournament didn’t provide any for the players. There were no bleachers around the court. Spectators watched the game in folding chairs that surrounded the court.

During the game an Auburn player took a hard fall and, according to Auburn’s radio broadcast, it took 40 minutes for medical personnel to arrive at the scene, and the game was delayed for close to an hour. ESPN’s M.A. Vogel reported that one of the site coordinators apologized to all of the participants and fans for how poorly the tournament was organized. Bryce McKey was the tournament organizer, but was not in Las Vegas over the weekend for the event.

The tournament was sold to Indiana by claiming that it would be similar to the Athlete’s Unlimited professional league set up. That one was played at a convention center and it went fairly well. The Las Vegas Invitational was horrendous. The only similarity is that the same court was used.

Indiana and Auburn should pursue legal action against McKey and all involved in putting together this sham of a basketball tournament. This was not a major Division I sporting event. The tournament organizers placed a court, some hoops, and some balls in a hotel ballroom and called it a college basketball game. These types of accommodations wouldn’t fly for a high school basketball game. Hell, even middle school games have bleachers.

Instead of spending a holiday with their families, these women flew across the country to participate in an event that was put together with a glue stick and scotch tape. Not only was it a waste of time, it actually put the participants in danger. Fortunately the Auburn player wasn’t seriously hurt, but that doesn’t make 40 minutes for medical care to arrive for a player who suffered a head injury excusable.

These women’s time and well being was not valued, and it should cost the tournament providers something. There is no way that they should be allowed to profit from bringing Fyre Fest to college athletics.