Charter flights a benefit of Butler’s evolution
by David Woods, USA TODAY Sports
Days of six-hour bus rides to Youngstown, Ohio, are long gone for Butler basketball players. One measure of how the program has evolved is the number of charter flights taken by the Bulldogs.
What once was a rarity is now commonplace. The team chartered to Philadelphia for Wednesday’s game at La Salle, and it will travel by charter to remaining Atlantic 10 road games.
Darnell Archey, a guard for the NCAA Sweet Sixteen team in 2003, said he saw a “huge difference” in how the team traveled when he returned to Butler in 2009 as coordinator of basketball operations.
“The great thing about a charter is, we pull our bus right up to the plane, we help unload the stuff onto the charter, and we take off five minutes later,” Archey said. “We don’t have to wait in terminals or go through security checkpoints. Our guys love it.”
Convenience comes at a cost, though.
Depending on the destination and length of flights, charters can run from $20,000 to nearly $40,000. Butler schedules charters through Anthony Travel, the same company used by Indiana, Purdue, Notre Dame and about 30 other Division I schools. Tim Lindgren of Anthony Travel said the company acts as a liaison with travel brokers.
Butler once called on donors to help with fundraising so the team could fly by charter, but now the cost is budgeted. Butler coach Brad Stevens said the university recognized travel expense would increase when Butler left the Horizon League to join the Atlantic 10.
Stevens said the charters are “part of investing and doing it the right way.”
Athletic director Barry Collier, who coached the Bulldogs from 1989-2000, recalls the team taking just two charter flights — to Penn State and Marshall — in those years. That number has steadily increased throughout the 2000s.
Butler’s team took commercial flights two weeks ago to Philadelphia (St. Joseph’s) and Dayton, but classes were not in session. Another convenience of charters is that the schedule can be amended, depending on when a practice gym becomes available. That is not possible with commercial flights.
Butler is chartering back from a Jan. 31 game at St. Louis. … [For more on Charter flights a benefit of Butler's evolution into top program, click here.]