When the New Mexico Lobos play the Kansas Jayhawks in December, they may need to deliver some thank-you presents from Down Under.
The $90,000 UNM’s men’s basketball team is being paid to play the Jayhawks on Dec. 14 in Kansas City, Mo., has been earmarked to pay for the bulk of the team’s 11-day journey to Australia. The Lobos leave today.
The rest of the estimated $125,000 trip will be covered by the $35,000 the Lobos get from playing in the Dec. 21 MGM Grand Showcase against Marquette in Las Vegas, Nev.
“It doesn’t come right down to the penny, but those two buy games are what cover the amount of this trip,” UNM deputy athletic director Tim Cass said.
UNM accepted the two “buy games” (the term often used when a team is paid a large sum to play away from its home court) in part to cover the costs of the Australia trip. The trip, however, was in the works for more than a year.
No portion of the Australia trip will be paid for by non-basketball generated funds, Cass said.
The travel party for the Australian exhibition tour is larger than a normal Lobo road game. Several coaching staff family members and members of athletic director Paul Krebs’ family are also traveling. But they all paid their own expenses for the trip, according to sports information director Frank Mercogliano.
While a paid travel party during the regular season usually includes 25 people, UNM’s group for the Australia trip is 23 (12 players, six coaches, a strength and conditioning coach, a trainer, a manager, Mercogliano and Krebs).
UNM would have also paid for junior college transfer Deshawn Delaney and incoming freshman Obij Aget, but neither has enrolled in school. They are expected to by the start of fall classes.
The NCAA allows teams to do one summer foreign trip with exhibition games once every four years.
The Lobos play three games against professional players in Australia. The three games will be Tuesday in Sydney, Thursday in Melbourne and Aug. 11 in Queensland. The Lobos are expected back in Albuquerque on Aug. 13.
Two Lobo starters – Hugh Greenwood and Cameron Bairstow – are from Australia and will meet the team there. Both are home for the summer, but are counted in the paid travel party.