Someone asked about hate mail from Alaska, and we think it’s an interesting discussion. We’re actually kind of living life on expert mode in terms of GNAC and west coast travel, so let’s talk about the costs that families face when their guys play in Alaska vs. anywhere else.
Plane tickets: $400 per person, bare minimum.
Rental car: $35 per day + $40 for roughly one tank of gas.
Hotel: $100 per night with taxes.
Food: $20 per day, per person. This is with grocery store shopping and bringing your own food on the plane.
Assuming it’s only mom and dad up there for Thursday, Friday, and leaving late on Saturday night, the grand total is going to be roughly $1250, not including time off work, all to see your son play twice. In years we’ve gone to Alaska, we’ve spent as much on that one trip as we did for every other conference trip combined.
Like a lot of the guys that play in the GNAC, we’re from the greater Seattle area -let’s contrast UAA/UAF with the other schools in our conference:
SFU: Four hours; passport required.
WWU: Three hours.
CWU: Three hours; one mountain pass.
SMU: Two hours.
CUP: Four hours.
WOU: Five hours.
NNU: Nine hours; four mountain passes.
MSUB: Twelve hours; seven mountain passes.
Those travel times are all inflated by about an hour, because the reality is you’re mostly traveling at rush hour. All of the schools, with the exception of MSUB & NNU, are within distance to take off from work after lunch (or even mid-afternoon), attend the game, and come home that night. We regularly discuss the fact that it’s really hard to get guys to stay at and/or attend NNU & MSUB. Could this be why? Probably.
Because the other reality is that another major supplier of D2 basketball talent is southern California and for them: every D2 school in California is within driving distance, with schools in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference on the outskirts. That means if you’re an outdoor enthusiast: You get to keep your car and live in Utah or Colorado and get a great education. Can Anchorage, Fairbanks, MSUB, or NNU offer all three of those things to the guys they’re recruiting? Nope.
However: it is what it is. The GNAC can still be great, the Alaska schools can recover, but getting guys to stay four years is arguably just as important as getting them to commit in the first place. Now with Azusa Pacific, Cal Baptist, the Concordias, and soon CSU San Marcos being D2, there are five additional schools that make maintaining that four year commitment all the more challenging. What they should do? No clue. But accepting their new reality is definitely the first thing.