Weather forces Irish men's basketball team to travel day of last ACC road game

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune
An already weird week took another strange turn Friday for Notre Dame coach Mike Brey when he and his team were prohibited from flying out of South Bend for Saturday's game at Clemson because of weather.

Thanks a lot, Mother Nature. 

What should’ve been an easy, convenient and otherwise uneventful hour-plus charter flight down to South Carolina on Friday for the Notre Dame men’s basketball team became one big travel headache. 

Scheduled to face Clemson on Saturday in the regular-season finale for both teams, Notre Dame (11-19 overall; 3-16 ACC) will have to do something it rarely has done – travel on the day of the game after its charter flight couldn’t leave Friday afternoon/evening because of inclement weather. 

Expected to leave South Bend International Airport just after 3 p.m., the Irish traveling party had boarded their flight and waited for clearance. When that never arrived, they instead boarded a bus and headed back to campus around 7:30. 

According to, Notre Dame was scheduled to land in Greenville/Spartanburg (30 miles from the Clemson campus) just after 7 on Friday. 

The weather conditions – blowing snow, high winds, poor visibility – made it too hazardous for the Irish to attempt to leave Friday night. The plan, according to a Notre Dame men’s basketball spokesperson, is to fly sometime early Saturday morning. 

Irish coach Mike Brey said in a text message that the plan is to leave Saturday at 9 a.m. No word on if Brey planned to spend another night at the Linebacker Lounge. Earlier in the week, after the Irish won in his final home game against No. 25 Pittsburgh, Brey visited the ‘Backer for the first time in his 23 seasons as head coach. 

Fortunately for Notre Dame, Saturday’s game is not scheduled to tip until 8 p.m. It is the final regular-season conference game to start on the final Saturday of the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season. 

Friday’s cancelation, while rare, is hardly unique in terms of Notre Dame dealing with travel issues during basketball season. Last year, poor weather forced Notre Dame to divert to Gary International Airport following an early-season loss at Boston College. Later in the year, the traveling party was on final approach into South Bend from Atlanta, then had to divert to Indianapolis because of poor visibility. The team wound up bussing back from Indianapolis, arriving just before sunrise. 

In 2010, Notre Dame bussed all the way home from the New York area following the Big East tournament because of weather/travel issues. That trip took 13 hours. In 2020 while dealing with lingering affects of COVID-19, Brey drove up to East Lansing, Michigan and met the team at its hotel the afternoon of the season opener against Michigan State.

Notre Dame will remain on the road after the Clemson game. On Sunday, it plans to bus the 220 miles to Greensboro, North Carolina, site of next week’s ACC tournament. Notre Dame will open play Tuesday night at 7 p.m. 

Follow South Bend Tribune and NDInsider columnist Tom Noie on Twitter: @tnoieNDI. Contact: (574) 235-6153.