Davidson is providing transportation, lodging, tickets to game

Updated: March 27, 2008, 7:15 PM ET
Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. -- It's a free-for-all at Davidson College.

Thanks to the deep pockets of the school's Board of Trustees, nearly 300 students will travel to Detroit to watch their beloved men's basketball team continue its surprising run in the NCAA tournament Friday night.

Students are getting bus transportation, two nights lodging and a ticket to see Davidson play Wisconsin in the Midwest Regional -- all for free.

Trustees pledged Wednesday to pay for any student. Within a day, 275 students -- nearly 20 percent of the student body -- had signed up. That sent officials at the small liberal-arts college, located about 20 miles north of Charlotte and about 650 miles south of Detroit, scrambling.

Forde: Davidson Gives Back

Davidson did not have to give its students all-expense paid trips to Detroit to support the Wildcats. The school's Board of Trustees dug into their own pockets for about $100,000 to provide at least five buses, 250 tickets and 125 hotel rooms for the student body to see upstart Davidson in the Sweet 16. How cool is that? Story

"The response was tremendous and frankly, surprisingly large," school spokeswoman Stacey Schmeidel said Thursday. "We actually have a lot more students who want to go, but we're trying to find more buses."

Behind sophomore sensation Stephen Curry, Davidson upset Gonzaga and Georgetown last week for the school's first NCAA tournament wins in 39 years. Curry, the son of NBA sharpshooter Dell Curry, has led the Wildcats to a 28-6 season they hope to extend Friday.

Curry hit eight of 10 3-pointers and scored 40 points in Davidson's upset of Gonzaga in the first round of the NCAA's Midwest Regional. Two days later, Curry scored 30 points to send Davidson past Georgetown and into the Sweet 16 for the first time in almost four decades.

When students learned they could witness Curry and the Wildcats in person, they jumped, even though the seven buses pull out at 5 a.m. for the 11-hour trip.

Davidson coach Bob McKillop credited the enthusiasm not only to the Wildcats' success but to the size and atmosphere of Davidson, a private school with about 1,700 students.

"The sense of intimacy that exists on our campus is unparalleled in NCAA Division I basketball," McKillop said Thursday as he and the team prepared in Detroit.

"But when the Board of Trustees votes in a meeting on Thursday to go into their personal pockets and put out the money so that every student can go to this game with a free bus ride, free hotel room, and free game ticket, that reaches a level that's unprecedented.

"I'm stunned by it, thrilled by it."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press