Havre Daily News
The travel procedures for Montana State University-Northern sports teams will change as a result of the women's basketball team's van crash on Nov. 14.
The teams will no longer depend on vans to transport players to away games, but will instead ride on chartered buses or airlines.
“We don't ask professional drivers to coach, so I don't know how realistic it is to ask coaches to drive,” Northern athletic director David Gantt said.
Use of the university-owned vans will be limited to short trips and won't involve late night or early morning travel, Gantt said. He eventually wants to phase out their use completely.
Gantt estimated that would cost an extra $30,000 to $40,000 a year.
University officials will figure out how to pay for the added expenses later, director of university relations Jim Potter said. He said the school will most likely need to fundraise.
“It is a budgetary issue, but the cost could be much more than money,” Gantt said. “We're not going to be able to solve this challenge without change.”
Skylights head basketball coach Chris Mouat was at the wheel when the 15-passenger university van hit an icy spot and overturned on Interstate 90 near the Montana-Idaho border at 1 a.m.
The team was returning from a three-game road trip to Portland, Ore. Three players were ejected from the van.
All 10 passengers were treated at Mineral Community Hospital in Superior, and six were then released. Four players were transferred to St. Patrick Hospital and Health Sciences Center in Missoula. Junior Chelsie Searle was then sent to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle and was released on Nov. 23, according to a hospital spokeswoman.
Junior Ashlie Griffin was released from the Missoula hospital last week, returned to Havre and after a few days was admitted at Northern Montana Hospital for complications with a pain patch, her roommate, Cathi Campanella, said Wednesday.
Potter, who met with most of the players on Tuesday afternoon, said the women are recovering, are in good spirits and are looking forward to getting back to normal life. Those team members do not want to be interviewed by the media, he said.
Mouat said Tuesday he thinks hiring buses with drivers will improve the safety of the team. Charter bus drivers can drive in 11-hour shifts with 10-hour breaks in between, according to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations.
In the past, Gantt said, the men'sand women's basketball teams normally traveled to nonconference games in vans, but took chartered buses to conference games.
Both the volleyball and wrestling teams have depended exclusively on vans, he said.
The wrestlers will take their first chartered bus trip when they travel to Las Vegas this weekend.
The Skylights have rescheduled their bout with the University of Great Falls for Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. in Havre.
Mouat said he's trying to reschedule two other games that were canceled because of the accident.