This fall, dozens of Syracuse University players, coaches, support staff and donors will board five 757 charter jets for trips to Louisiana State, North Carolina State, Miami, Florida State and Louisville, racking up about 4,537 miles along the way — the program’s highest total since 2011.
As college football teams play spread-out schedules to satisfy expansive nonconference and TV schedules, airlines have cut back on the number of charters they provide. This creates a mismatch of higher demand for college football charters and lessened supply from airlines. This spring, major airlines cited soaring costs while considering the possibility of cutting their charter business altogether, according to Bloomberg.
Though most airlines will continue to fly NCAA teams, many will focus on the more profitable and predictable commercial business. Because while transporting teams to and from games can be lucrative, it poses logistical challenges for athletic departments and airlines alike.
At SU, the road to bowl eligibility begins long before the season opener, the first snaps of training camp and the annual spring game in the Carrier Dome. It begins months, sometimes years, in advance, inside the offices of Herman Frazier and Brad Wittke at Manley Field House. Frazier, SU’s senior deputy athletics director, and Wittke, SU football’s director of operations, work together on conference calls, schedule outlines and negotiate to ensure every detail runs smoothly for game day.
“The goal is that nothing travel wise has any type of effect on the game,” said Wittke, who handles budget management, travel meals and the team calendar. “From the flight, food on the flight, to the hotel to the buses, none of that should ever have a negative impact on what the team is doing on the field.”
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