After a tour of Disneyland, Maryland's basketball team took the court in a no-counter against Athletes in Action last night in Anaheim, Calif.
The numbers that would be most closely watched by AIA were not the score. AIA, a team of low-paid professionals brought together by their Christian beliefs, picked up the expense tab to bring Maryland west, and a near full-house crowd would have to click through the turnstiles to make this a break-even event for AIA.
"We're taking a chance," said AIA public relations director Greg Hicks."We wanted a big-name eastern school and Maryland agreed to come. They wanted their expenses paid for, which we agreed to do. We're not actually paying their expenses, but we're guaranteeing them a sum that will cover their expenses. It's the largest sum we've ever paid."
Hicks would not specify the total that appeared on the check presented to Maryland at game time last night. But with a $400 round-trip air fare per person, the bill comes to more than $500 for each Maryland traveler involved in this cross-country exhibition game.
"We have to do that to get teams here," said Hicks.
Hicks said that many teams who come to play AIA schedule a college game nearby. Maryland athletic director Jim Kehoe said such a game against UCLA, Southern Cal, Pepperdine or another nearby cotender was not pursued because of the Terrapin's tight schedule. Maryland played at Hershey, Pa., Thursday night and hosts East Carolina Wednesday. Maryland also has final examinations beginning Dec. 12.
"With basketball, you have 30 or so games to schedule and some of them will have to be during the week," said Kehoe. "There is no argument that it is an intrusion, but that's the way it is. There are tournaments all over the country right now.
"We considered its value for our players, our West Coast alumni and our recruiting, and we view this as a trip with more pluses than minuses."