Navy to Tulane: It's on the house

Mids' homecoming reaches out to aid hurricane-homeless visitor

College Football


The Naval Academy has extended a big helping hand to a fellow institution made homeless by Hurricane Katrina.

When New Orleans-based Tulane University visits Saturday for the Midshipmen's homecoming game, it will truly be the honored guest, courtesy of the academy.

Navy will pick up virtually all the expenses for Tulane's trip, including airfare, hotel rooms, meals and ground transportation after having forwarded the visiting team's guarantee (about $125,000) in advance.

"We're just doing everything we can to support them," said academy athletic director Chet Gladchuk. "Except for the game, we're trying to make this trip enjoyable for them. It's terrible what they're going through, and certainly we can relate to their situation."

Gladchuk estimates that the supplemental financial support will cost approximately $100,000. The Naval Academy Athletic Association has taken the lead in the project and received noteworthy help from business partners - including the Wyndham hotel in Baltimore, where the Green Wave will be quartered - caterers and ground transportation suppliers.

Tulane students will be admitted to the game free with appropriate identification and the players will be receiving a "goody bag" full of food and beverage items and amenities such as toiletries.

Gladchuk, who headed Tulane's athletic program from 1987 through 1990, said his Tulane counterpart, Rick Dickson, has endured "the toughest job in the country the last few years."

Two years ago, Dickson had to withstand an administrative movement to end football, and now he is trying to supervise a situation in which the school's athletic teams are spread over four campuses, with the football team headquartered at Louisiana Tech in Ruston, La.

"When I talked to him, he asked if he could come to our dinner Friday night casual because he didn't have a tie," Gladchuk said. "He hasn't been able to hold a staff meeting in months, they're so disjointed."

Dickson's home in New Orleans was destroyed by the storm, and the Wilson Center, the hub of Tulane athletics, was engulfed by seven feet of water.

"They are really strapped for resources," said Gladchuk of Tulane. "Their medical center, which the institution relies on for financial support, closed down, and there is no cash flow. They're really worried about losing everything, facilities, staff, students. We feel compelled to do what we can to help."

The guarantee check was mailed two months ago, shortly after the hurricane struck.

Dickson said Navy's generosity "is not unusual, but it is exceptional. We've had some pretty remarkable things happen. Southern Miss returned our guarantee to us even though it was our home game in Shreveport. But Chet and Navy went above and beyond."

Among the other checks received by Tulane were a $50,000 donation from the Orange Bowl and $40,000 from Mike Garrett, athletic director at Southern California.

"We're greatly indebted to these people," said Dickson. "A lot of kids lost everything, and it's important they have some thread of normalcy. But, so far nobody has handed us a victory."

"We went through a couple hurricanes when I was there," Gladchuk noted. "Nothing of this magnitude, but we know this is the toughest of times for them. It's only appropriate that the Naval Academy be there when it is needed."

Football coach Chris Scelfo also was grateful for Navy's largesse.

"Chet was at Tulane and Paul Johnson is a good friend of mine," said Scelfo. "The Naval Academy is a first-class organization."

The Green Wave has played only two "road" games. The first was at Southern Methodist, where "they took care of us for about two weeks, offered everything they could," the coach pointed out. "We stayed at their campus" before securing a permanent station in Ruston. "Deion Sanders came by to talk to the kids. Maybe he'll stop by again this week.

"Oh, and put in there that if President Bush wants to come to the game, I'll pay for his ticket."

Navy is taking care of the rest.

Tulane@Navy Saturday, 1:30 p.m., 1090 AM, 1430 AM Line: Navy by 12 1/2

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