Three teams have withdrawn from an upcoming Las Vegas women’s college basketball tournament. That’s as the fallout continues from the poorly organized Las Vegas Invitational over Thanksgiving weekend.
Dayton, Purdue, and Texas A&M are out of the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic – set for December 17-21 at the South Point Arena – because of its coordination by Destination Basketball, which also ran the heavily criticized Las Vegas Invitational at the Mirage on November 25 and 26.
Purdue and Texas A&M will now play each other separately.
The Las Vegas Invitational was held in a ballroom at The Mirage resort on November 25 and 26. Though that wasn’t unusual, the event was entirely unstaffed. That meant no security or paramedics were on hand, resulting in a nearly hour-long delay for Auburn Tigers player Kharyssa Richardson to receive treatment for a head injury on the tournament’s final night. Fortunately, she wasn’t seriously injured.
In addition, no scoreboard was provided, and folding chairs for the audience stood in for the customary bleachers.
“We are all about giving our players the opportunity to play the game they love,” Texas A&M coach Joni Taylor said in a statement via the Associated Press. “Given the circumstances surrounding the Las Vegas Invitational, we decided to withdraw from the tournament. We are very thankful to Purdue for being adaptable and for allowing us to host them.”
Campbell, Cleveland State, Jacksonville State, Lindenwood, and Utah Tech are still scheduled to compete at the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic.
“The five teams that are going to be at the South Point were five teams we already had,” tournament operations manager Bret Seymour said, also via the Associated Press. “To be honest, our other five are happy they (the three that withdrew) aren’t there anymore, because they like it as a non-Power Five event. We took those three to help. It’s OK. It’s really actually better for us, because they’re not there this year for that particular event.”
MGM Resorts, which owned The Mirage until turning over the keys to Hard Rock International earlier this month, has since cut ties with Destination Basketball and its site coordinator, Ryan Polk.
We take great pride in hosting events of all sizes and providing world-class experiences and accommodations to our guests,” MGM Resorts wrote in a November 28 statement. “MGM Resorts and the Mirage did not organize, operate or sponsor the Las Vegas Invitational. Mr. Polk was the site coordinator and was responsible for all aspects of this tournament. All decisions about seating, the configuration of the venue, and details such as the presence of emergency medical personnel and security were his responsibility. The Mirage contracted with Mr. Polk to provide the ballroom, hotel rooms for participants and attendees, and certain food and beverage catering, all of which were provided as required.
“Mr. Polk is not affiliated with MGM Resorts or The Mirage, and we will not be working with his company on future events.”
Another Unexpected Twist
Last month, Deadspin weighed in on the controversy, reminding the sports world that Destination Basketball owner Bryce McKey was forced to resign from his job as assistant women’s basketball coach for the University of Maryland team in 2015. This followed allegations of sexual misconduct.
McKey was accused of plying two former 20-year-old student-athletes with alcohol and groping them while working as an assistant coach for Xavier University.
McKey pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charge involving one of the women and was acquitted. No charges were filed regarding the second allegation.
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