Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) is encouraging state businesses to give their employees a casual day on Friday — provided they wear the black and gold colors of Virginia Commonwealth University and make a donation to VCU’s Massey Cancer Center.
The proposal is the latest example of college basketball fever that has caught on in Virginia, as upstart Richmond-based VCU unexpectedly heads to Houston to take on Butler in the NCAA Final Four on Saturday.
McDonnell was one of a thousand Richmond residents who gathered Wednesday to cheer on Coach Shaka Smart and the VCU team as they headed to the airport bound for Houston. The governor spent a good portion of his monthly radio appearance on WRVA’s Ask the Governor program Thursday fielding questions from excited Richmond residents about the team.
He said he’d told staff of the governor’s office that they can ditch their ties and heels and dress down on Friday, provided they wear school colors and make a $4 contribution to the cancer center. He asked other businesses to offer the same deal for their workers, making donations through a VCU Web site.
“Having these local guys come together and play great ball, it’s a great story,” he said
McDonnell took some ribbing from radio host Jimmy Barrett for a picture distributed by his office Sunday, which shows the governor on a cellphone, congratulating Smart after VCU’s upset victory over Kansas. In the picture, McDonnell is wearing a sweatshirt from his alma mater Notre Dame.
McDonnell admitted that he hadn’t expected the photo to be taken and that he’s worn Notre Dame gear for decades. But he pledged that he would be wearing VCU gear in Houston on Saturday, when he cheers on the team in person.
“I’ll be wearing that VCU rams T-shirt proudly in Houston,” he said. “I'll be in uniform, sir yes sir.”
And he said he looked forward to collecting a duck from Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) of Indiana, the wager Daniels has put up in a friendly bet between the two governors over the game’s outcome. McDonnell has said he will give Daniels a Virginia ham if Butler wins the game.
Noting that he’s already won hams and turkeys from other governors during VCU’s five-game run during the NCAA tournament, he said the bets are all part of a plot: “We’re going to have a big party at the mansion for VCU with all that food,” he said. “I told Governor Daniels, this better be a big duck.”