New four-team event confirmed
Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis has been an innovator in scheduling unique college basketball events -- most notably being the first to suggest teams play on the deck of an active aircraft carrier.
Now Hollis has done it again, creating a four-team barnstorming event with Michigan State, North Carolina, Florida and Texas agreeing to play three games, one each in New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles over an eight-day period in December 2018 while traveling together on a single chartered airplane.
Hollis told ESPN.com Wednesday that all four schools, their coaches and athletic directors have confirmed their participation.
"It's a very cool idea," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said Wednesday. "At first I thought it was crazy, but it's during break so we don't miss any school. It's three big games in a row, and with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge and other events [Champions Classic] we could have six or seven big games."
Izzo said the uniqueness of this event is the camaraderie with the players and staff, as well as the educational and cultural aspects of the trips.
Hollis shared with ESPN.com the itinerary Wednesday.
The teams will arrive in New York City on Dec. 14, 2018, on their own. The first doubleheader, with matchups and times to be announced at a later date, will be at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 15. On Sunday, Dec. 16, the four teams will tour the Freedom Tower at the 9/11 memorial and also visit Wall Street. They will then see Motown the musical on Broadway, assuming it is still running.
The teams will then travel together to Chicago later that night. They will go to a Chicago pizza dinner on Monday, Dec. 17, followed by a Second City comedy show. The second doubleheader on the trip will be Dec. 18 at the United Center.
The teams will then fly to Los Angeles on Dec. 19. Once in L.A., the teams will head to Disneyland and a dinner. The teams will then tour Warner Brothers Studio and the Grammy Museum on Friday, Dec. 21.
The third and final doubleheader will be Dec. 22 at Staples Center.
"The teams will then depart on their own and get to go home for the holidays," said Hollis, who also was instrumental initially in having Michigan State and Kentucky play at Ford Field to test playing in the center of a major football stadium.
Hollis said each of the four teams will get a home game against an opponent to be determined later to make this a four-game event and qualify as a multiteam event.
"So many of these kids know each other from AAU and everything else that we felt this would be a great way to travel," Hollis said. "I worked with [ADs] Steve Patterson at Texas, Jeremy Foley at Florida and Bubba Cunningham at North Carolina on this. They and the head coaches are all excited about the opportunity for the student-athletes."
Hollis joked that this isn't playing a game on the moon, but he was looking for another idea out of the box.
Hollis was one of the creators of the 16-team Nike event in celebration of founder Phil Knight's 80th birthday that will be played at two Portland venues in November 2017. That event will take two Nike-sponsored schools from major conferences, including Michigan State and Ohio State out of the Big Ten.