Team makes preseason game 'students only'

Updated: August 5, 2004, 2:35 AM ET
Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Charlotte basketball fans can forget about getting a preseason look at Shaquille O'Neal.

The Bobcats will only admit middle school students who meet certain academic achievements for their Oct. 26 exhibition game against the Miami Heat.

The game is part of their "Cool School Field Trip" program, modeled after an event the NHL's Nashville Predators have done in the past.

Middle school students from 15 counties in North Carolina and South Carolina are involved in the program. Principals from the schools will select students who have demonstrated strong academic performance, commendable character and service, and have no absences or suspensions. They must also write an essay on character development.

"This is a terrific opportunity for most of our students to see an NBA game," said Dr. Tom Hammond, executive vice president of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. "It's an opportunity that is not available to all of them, and an incentive for them to shoot for."

The game will be played at 11 a.m.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press