Wednesday, May 23, 2007

UAlbany might play at Duke next season

UAlbany athletic director Lee McElroy confirmed on Tuesday morning a Fox-23 report the Great Danes are talking to Duke about playing an ESPN game at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C. next season.

“We’ve been talking to a lot of big schools, Duke being one of them,” McElroy said. “In the past we’ve tried to make sure we have at least two to three guarantee games.”

McElroy stressed the deal hasn’t been finalized.

“We don’t have a contract,” he said. “I don’t want to jeopardize it. Let’s say we hope to have our schedule completed within the next couple of weeks.”

McElroy said ESPN was trying to arrange the game partly out of gratitude for the difficulties the Great Danes endured trying to get to their ESPNU BracketBuster game against Boise State this past season. Because of a snowstorm that blanketed the Northeast, UAlbany had take buses to Washington, D.C., from where the team flew to Boise.

“It’s a combination of things,” McElroy said. “The BracketBuster and that travel debacle has something to do with it. And really, the (America East) conference is building a strong relationship with ESPN. This will probably the third year in a row we’ll play a BracketBuster game, in addition to the potential Duke game.”

UAlbany played at UConn last season and faced UCLA and Florida in 2005-06, when those two programs ended up playing in the national championship game. But Duke, whose last national championship came in 2001, is arguably the most recognizable college basketball program in the country.

“To go to a place like Duke, should that be completed in the next few weeks, would be another feather in the cap for our student-athletes,” McElroy said.

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