- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 12, 2002

For the record, Georgetown accepted a National Invitational Tournament bid, but it could not agree to terms on where to play. And with both sides not eager to accept a compromise, the NIT and Georgetown parted ways late Sunday night with no agreement and therefore no NIT bid for the Hoyas.

Both sides were unwilling to part with tenets very close to them. For the NIT, it was a large arena and an opportunity for a national TV audience, while Georgetown wanted less travel time and more class time for its student-athletes after lugging their luggage around the country for postseason tournaments in recent years.

"We've done a lot of traveling the past few years," said Georgetown athletic director Joe Lang of the Hoyas' postseason trips to Boise, Idaho; Anaheim and Berkeley, Calif.; and Gainesville, Fla., in the last four seasons. "That's really debilatating. That gets to be a lot."

Lang and Hoyas coach Craig Esherick engaged in discussions with the NIT late into Sunday night before the committee went ahead and released the matchups without Georgetown, breaking a string of 27 years in which the Hoyas have played in a postseason tournament. The last team to turn down an NIT bid was Louisville in 1987. After a sub-par season in 1995, Georgia Tech also withdrew itself from consideration for a bid before it could be offered.

The NIT often tries to be flexible with teams in terms of game sites, but "you can't let people dictate who they're going to play," said Chris Fallon, the publicity director for the NIT.

"You tell them what your concerns are, and they work with it the best they can," Lang said. "If they could have made it happen, they would have."

The decision not to play the NIT impacted Hoyas players, particularly lone senior Kevin Braswell, the program's all-time leader in assists and steals, whose season will end prematurely. The stalwart point guard held together a youthful team that weathered some tough times in a season marred by several excruciating losses. Braswell was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Lang said because the Georgetown academic calendar had been moved up this year the second semester ends in late April, earlier than in the past missing class time became more critical this season.

"We wanted to make every effort to play the game close to home to minimize missed class time," Lang said. "With seven weeks to go [in the semester], that's not a lot of class time. When you look at the whole picture and we certainly did we thought it was better to decline." Lang added he and Esherick did not discuss losing the revenue the school would have gained from playing in the NIT; the focus was strictly on academics.

Things would have been different if they Hoyas had made the NCAA tournament. "We certainly would have [accepted] if it were the NCAAs," Esherick said.

The NIT wanted Georgetown to either play at Richmond or Iowa in the tournament's opening round. Georgetown's chances of playing host to a game are reduced because McDonough Arena and its 2,200 approximate capacity is not a venue the NIT considers preferable to have games.

"If they had a [larger] home-court facility, we wouldn't have been talking about the things we were," said NIT executive director Jack Powers, a long-time friend of Lang's. "Every year they didn't make the NCAA tournament, they had to deal with playing on the road" in the NIT.

Georgetown did play a second-round NIT game at McDonough Arena in 1993, though Powers said criteria for playing host to games are different after the first round.

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