A-Sun admits error

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 14, 2003

On Tuesday, Atlantic Sun Conference Associate Commissioner Ted Gumbart admitted the conference made a mistake in regards to Troy State's first week of conference play.

The error caused Troy State to play division foe Central Florida on a two-day rest while the Golden Knights were given four days between games. Troy State played its fourth game in eight days Saturday while the UCF played its first game since Monday. UCF won 76-61.

"We try to make everything fair for all the teams in the league, but in hind sight we could have handled that better," Gumbart said.

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The Atlantic Sun schedule is based around "travel partners." Travel partners are schools in close proximity who road teams face in one road trip.

Troy State and Mercer are travel partners, so Florida Atlantic and Central Florida played Troy State and Mercer on the same road trip.

Gumbart said teams are supposed to play each other on the same night and then play the other team two days later. For instance, the original schedule had Mercer playing UCF Thursday while Troy State played Florida Atlantic. Saturday, the road teams would switch places Saturday, moving UCF to Troy and Florida Atlantic to Mercer.

However, UCF asked to move its game from Thursday to Monday because it claimed to have a non-conference game conflict. Gumbart said the scheduling conflicts came about because the conference schedule had to be amended to include Gardner-Webb.

"We sent out the conference schedules and teams planned their non-conference schedules around it," Gumbart said. "We had to re-release the schedule when we added a 12th member (Gardner-Webb) and that led to some confusion."

In the event a conference team asks to move a conference game, the conference is supposed to notify the travel partners. The conference did not contact either Troy State of Florida Atlantic.

"We did not find out until Florida Atlantic had already made travel plans," Troy State head coach Don Maestri said. "At that point, we could not move the game. If we could, we would have moved that game to Monday so everybody would have been on the same playing field."

Florida Atlantic did not even know about the change until Thursday night's game at Troy State. The Trojans and the Owls played a close game before Troy State won 77-72.

Saturday, Troy State was soundly defeated by UCF 76-61 and Florida Atlantic fell at Mercer 86-79.

While fatigue was certainly a factor in Saturday's games, Maestri said the extra chance to prepare was an unfair advantage for Mercer and UCF.

"Central Florida had three days to prepare for us," Maestri said. "They didn't even practice Friday, so they got more rest."

The Trojans are tied for second with UCF in the Atlantic Sun's South Division with a 3-1 conference mark. UCF is at 2-1 after falling by 22 points to Mercer Monday night. Mercer is undefeated in conference play.

"We were the only team in our division to have to play four games in eight days," Maestri said. "When you're talking about teams in our division having an advantage – the two best teams – that's not fair.

"I'm not saying we would have beaten Central Florida Saturday if we had been equal, but I think it's important for our fans who have given us the best support in many years to know why the team did not look as sharp as it did earlier. That situation was not fair to those players."

Mercer benefited the most from the error, playing both teams on the second night of the trip. The Bears are located in the same city as the home office of the Atlantic Sun, Macon, Ga.

The Trojans and the Bears play Friday night in the Atlantic Sun Game of the Week at 7 p.m. in Trojan Arena.