Mississippi State Athletic Department Should Have Researched Airline

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By now, you have heard plenty about the emergency landing the plane that was carrying the Mississippi State Men’s basketball team had to make. Yesterday, we were the first to inform you that the U.S. Department of Transportation had issued a decision to revoke that airline’s certificate to transport people. Scott Stricklin told Mike Bonner of the Clarion Ledger yesterday that the school did not directly book the plane themselves. Mississippi State uses Shorter Travel, a travel agency that schedules travel plans for NCAA teams. Shorter Travel is the one responsible for booking with Aerodynamics Incorporated.

While it is somewhat reassuring to know that the school did not book a flight with a company under the scrutiny of the federal government, this sounds like a whole lot of passing the buck along. Shorter Travel might have been the ones to book the flight, but it was the athletic department that chose to accept that flight without checking up on the airline.

I firmly believe the athletic department at Mississippi State wants to ensure the safety of all of their players and staff. I do not believe they would ever do anything intentionally to put any one who represents the university on the field of play in harm’s way. It is also likely we won’t know for a number of months if the engine failure on the plane that was carrying the team was the result of a freak accident, or the result of the incompetency to maintain their aircraft as the federal government cited ADI for.

In my conversation with Gregg Ellis on Monday morning, he mentioned that these charter flight companies come and go overnight. It is a volatile industry, and there are very few that are able to succeed for more than a few years. As a result, these companies are going to do everything they can to save money and cut costs. Knowing this, every time a player or coach boards one of these planes, someone needs to be responsible for determining just how well this company operates their business. Flying has become such a common occurrence for major NCAA athletic programs, it is taken for granted. Shorter Travel might have been the company to book a flight with an airline that had questionable business practices. It is up to the school to find out if that airline was worth their salt. A little research would have turned up the necessary information to tell Shorter Travel to do better.