Despite its popularity last season, the men’s basketball program has yet to formalize plans to continue chartering fan buses to and from select Ivy League road games.
The team offered these buses, as well as free admission, on two occasions earlier this year. New Haven played host to both: a regular-season game against Yale and the NCAA Tournament play-in game against Princeton.
Harvard lost both games, each by just a point, but the teams’ overall record spurred greater interest in the Crimson’s basketball team.
Despite the heightened enthusiasm, it remains unclear whether the student buses will be sponsored next year.
“It’s certainly not something we have budgeted for,” said Assistant Director of Athletics Kurt K. Svoboda. “But working with ... student agencies, the marketing office, and then with the basketball program itself, [we’re] trying to scratch out enough money to pay for the bus and back.”
As a result of last season’s success—the team won its first-ever share of the Ivy League title—fan interest in men’s basketball has grown, both on campus and nationally. In addition to multiple sellouts at Lavietes Pavilion this year, several Harvard contests were televised on ESPN networks.
“We had a pretty strong following with student fans in the last couple of years for basketball, and essentially, the department got approached by some students asking if we would consider doing a student bus,” Svoboda said.
Svoboda said that he did not know how specifically the buses were funded, nor did he know the costs associated with sponsoring buses and tickets this season. He also said that he was not certain to what degree donors were involved in funding the buses last season.
In addition to transportation, students who rode school-sponsored buses to the Feb. 26 Harvard-Yale game were also given free food and apparel.
Transportation to and from away games for major Harvard sporting events is not without precedent. When the annual Harvard-Yale football game is played on the road, buses are generally chartered for the thousands of students who go to New Haven for the event.
But buses to and from The Game are organized by Harvard Student Agencies and other student organizations, and students usually have to pay for transportation, meaning the Athletic Department is financially uninvolved—a fact Svoboda confirmed.
At the moment, no official decision has been made about fan buses for men’s basketball going into next season. Student transportation will be handled on a “case-by-case basis,” according to Svoboda.
Still, he said that the men’s basketball program does what it can to create a vibrant environment in conference play.
“I think we always hope to have a good atmosphere for those Ivy League games,” he said.
—Staff writer E. Benjamin Samuels can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.