NCAA, GO Ground partner for championship travel
A new multi-year deal brings together the National Collegiate Athletic Association and Chicago-based GO Ground to enhance ground transportation travel for various teams competing in all 46 NCAA team championships. The deal sets out to improve the experience of each team and helps with overall travel costs. With most motorcoach companies working separately, management of standards of performance and cost was a challenge. The partnering came about after GO Ground and the NCAA conducted a pilot program in 2010-2011 at certain NCAA championships.
Another new aspect of the program is the enhancement of the ground transportation experience for teams, guests and fans attending the Men’s and Women’s Final Fours.
“We needed to consolidate ground transportation for our championships,” said NCAA Associate Director for Travel and Insurance Juanita Sheely. “GO Ground demonstrated they had the technology platform and industry experience to help us accomplish this. We want to provide a safer product with good service to our membership institutions at a better cost.”
All teams traveling to NCAA championships by bus will be required to use only charter companies approved for the program. Those are the buses that will carry the official traveling party (student-athletes, coaches, administrators) to the championship.
Sheely said the agreement with GO Ground shrinks the pool of companies that will be used, which rewards operators and helps control costs. For example last year at one of the championships, a school was charged $1,500 a day for transportation. That and other cost discrepancies should be greatly reduced.
“Our goal now is that we can even things out,” Sheely said. “We don’t want someone in St. Louis and someone in Pittsburgh having $1,000 a day difference. There will probably be a little variation, but it shouldn’t be the variations we’ve been seeing.”
There will be more staff and enhanced technology. Each team will be assigned a personal travel consultant who will handle their ground transportation throughout the competition.
The teams, schools and bus operators will also have 24-hour, seven-days-a-week online access to the most up-to-date information for itinerary planning, communications and any other details.