June 13, 2012
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON – Whatever number the Team USA Experience auction winners play in Las Vegas, maybe they should try 4.
After all, it was four men who bid on the Olympic men’s basketball package made available by Marshall hoops legend Mike D’Antoni and the Big Green Scholarship Foundation. It was a travel package for four.
“We made our bid at 4 p.m.,” said Kristofer Vance of the $9,000 winning bid made one hour before Tuesday’s auction deadline.
Vance, of Proctorville, Ohio, was one of the winners of the July 11-12 Team USA Experience in Vegas that includes a chance to watch Team USA and its NBA stars work out prior to the London Games, and attend an exhibition game against the John Calipari-coached Dominican Republic team.
“We think it’s a real steal,” said Vance, who like his three other co-winners will pay $2,250 for the two-day trip that also includes a round of golf, accommodations at the Wynn Las Vegas Resort, airfare for four and a private breakfast with D’Antoni, who is an assistant on Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s Team USA staff.
The $9,000 will go toward the Vision Campaign for a new soccer stadium and indoor facility that will benefit all of the Herd programs. D’Antoni is also a co-chair of the Vision Campaign, with former Herd quarterback Chad Pennington.
“We’d talked about what we wanted to do, and we held off until 4 p.m. because we figured (the bidding) would go much higher, maybe $14,000 or $15,000.”
Vance, a Subway restaurant co-owner in Huntington and Red Bull energy drink distributor, will be joined on the Team USA Experience by Kyle Bane of Teays Valley, who works in human resources for Alpha Natural Resources; Jarrod Call, a Barboursville pharmaceutical representative; and Barboursville resident “Stormy” See, director of sales for Stryker Orthopedics.
Call’s connections to Marshall have added depth. He is a grandson of the late Charlie Kautz, the former MU football player an assistant coach who was Marshall’s athletic director when he died in the 1970 football team plane crash.
Kautz was just named to the Herd’s 2012 Hall of Fame class on Monday.
“We’re very excited these four young guys will get to go represent Marshall and the Big Green and have a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Travis Epling, MU’s assistant director of athletic development and the auction coordinator for the Big Green. “They’re not only going to meet with Mike D’Antoni, but get an up-close look at Team USA before the Olympics.
“We really appreciate Mike making all of this possible for the Vision Campaign.”
Bane said the most attractive facet of the trip for him was “the chance to see a closed-door practice for Team USA and maybe meet the players.”
Vance agreed, and said previous chances to travel on Herd team trips and get unique insights with those experiences have him anxious to see how a star-studded team works at practice.
The winning bidders attended the Big Green Coaches Tour stop at The Greenbrier on June 2-3 when the Team USA Experience auction was made public. They began to plot their plan to win then … as did their wives to make the trip with them.
“We kind of figured we could get to $3,000 apiece if we needed,” Vance said. “I thought maybe $4,000, if we could do it. As a group, I’d say $12,000 was going to be our max overall, but we’re getting a great deal.”
The winners have been active in the Vision Campaign. Bane said that while the four will enjoy the trip, the credit should go elsewhere.
“I think we have to thank Mike D’Antoni for being so generous and working to put something like this together,” Bane said, “and you have to appreciate the proactive approach of people like (Athletic Director) Mike Hamrick, and Travis and (Big Green Executive Director) John Sutherland for doing this.
“It should make for an enjoyable experience for all of us.”