90 IU fans sad, mad as Philly trip flops

90 IU fans sad, mad as Philly trip flops

March 28, 1976

Hoosier hysteria took on a literal meaning Saturday morning when over 90 ardent Indiana University basketball fans enroute to Philadelphia for the NCAA tournament found their charter flight canceled without warning.

The would-be followers of the Hurryin’ Hoosiers who congregated at dawn at Indianapolis’ Weir Cook Airport already had completed pre-flight security checks and were waiting to board the plane when the news came.

They listened first in stunned silence, then reacted with tears and righteous anger as Indiana University Student Association (IUSA) President Jay King told them that the IUSA-arranged trip was off.

King reportedly told the fans that a wholesale travel agency through which IUSA arranged the trip had failed to get tickets for the basketball games, necessitating cancellation of the entire package. King could not be reached for further explanation Saturday.

Suzanne Van Duyne, a volunteer worker for the IUSA Travel Service was unaware until Saturday night that the charter trip had been cancelled. “Didn’t it go?” she asked, then said “Oh, God. That’s just delightful,” in a dismayed and angry tone.

Van Duyne said she didn’t know the name of the wholesale travel agency but said she had had previous contact with a representative of the firm named John Maes of Miami, Fla. Maes could not be reached for comment and Van Duyne said it was possible he had gone to Jamaica to check on another IUSA travel package.

The Philadelphia trip had a price in the neighborhood of $200, which included round-trip transportation, hotel accommodations and tickets to the semi-final and final games of the NCAA tourney. Van Duyne said it was her understanding the wholesale travel agency had been able to reserve bout 100 tickets for each game.

Van Duyne said the travel agency “will have to give everyone their money back and I assume they will.”

IU students were not the only people who had signed up for the trip. The IU Alumni Office had been referring alumni to the IUSA trip when they were contacted by Hoosiers wishing to see the finals.

As late as Friday night, Bloomington radio station WTTV was announcing that a few seats remained on the charter flight, urging fans to take advantage of the opportunity to see the nation’s No. 1 basketball team win the NCAA crown.

Charles Blanton, a spokesman for Ozark Airlines which had provided the charter aircraft said the plane was ready for boarding when the cancellation was announced. He said he observed most of the disappointed Hoosier fans leaving the airport, probably to return to Bloomington or their home communities. A few were able to secure passage to Philadelphia on regular commercial flights, he said, but for most it was home to the TV set in disappointment and rage.