Three college women’s basketball teams have withdrawn from a Las Vegas tournament as part of continuing fallout from a similar event at a Strip resort over Thanksgiving weekend where safety concerns were raised.
Purdue University, the University of Dayton and Texas A&M University are out of the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic at South Point Arena. Those schools, according to tournament operations manager Bret Seymour, had agreed to be additions to his tournament in coordination with officials from Destination Basketball, which ran the Las Vegas Invitational last month at The Mirage.
“We are all about giving our players the opportunity to play the game they love,” Texas A&M coach Joni Taylor said in a statement. “Given the circumstances surrounding the Las Vegas Invitational, we decided to withdraw from the tournament. We are very thankful to Purdue for being adaptable and for allowing us to host them” instead.
The Las Vegas Invitational experienced many problems, including not having medical personnel on site, which resulted in Auburn freshman Kharyssa Richardson laying on the court for 50 minutes after falling hard and appearing to hit her head before EMTs arrived.
Indiana University Coach Teri Moren considered not playing after Richardson’s injury, but the now-No. 4 Hoosiers took the court and beat Memphis 79-64. Moren said after the game she thought women’s basketball “had taken a couple of steps backwards” as a result of tournament conditions that also included fans sitting on folding chairs rather than bleachers.
The Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic will be played Dec. 19-21 and includes Campbell University, Cleveland State, Jacksonville State, Lindenwood University and Utah Tech.
“The five teams that are going to be at the South Point were five teams we already had,” Seymour said. “To be honest, our other five are happy they (the three that withdrew) aren’t there anymore because they like it as a non-Power Five event. We took those three to help. It’s OK. It’s really actually better for us because they’re not there this year for that particular event.”
Sport Tours International runs the South Point tournament as well as two others in Las Vegas, and it has overseen events in the city for 14 years.
Seymour said the three Power Five teams discovered they would be playing at South Point rather than The Mirage and decided to withdraw.
“Destination Basketball had the contracts with Purdue, Texas A&M and Dayton,” Seymour said. “We did not. … We were surprised they claimed they didn’t know.”