Basketball trip to China and Dubai stuck on ground at Raleigh Durham Airport. Deputy FC learns charter jet had mechanical problems earlier in Miami

There are three posts for Monday. Please scroll down for a very important story from Bloomberg News about 13 US professors barred from entering China because they dared to express themselves. We also have an essay about alumni giving. Plus, if you did not check in with FC on Sunday, there is an update on the doctor who left Duke in July, now facing murder charges in Seattle. Please scroll down.

Updated 3 AM Monday

✔✔✔✔✔ After delay after frustrating delay -- a process that went on for eight hours on Sunday -- the men's basketball team and its supporters did not take off on their charter flight to China. Instead, they went to hotel rooms.

What went wrong? There's no answer for the players and approximately 100 fans scheduled to fly, only murk. The weather did play havoc with flights in the region -- but whatever problem there is with the charter jet existed quite apart from the weather.


At 3 AM Monday, a Deputy Fact Checker learned that the jet -- chartered from North American Airlines -- had mechanical problems earlier in Miami. It flew to Raleigh-Durham nonetheless, but an inspection grounded the plane. We do not know who did the inspecting.

One source told the Deputy FC the problem cannot be fixed at the local airport, and a special crew has to fly it to a major repair facility.


It's believed the airline is trying to arrange for a substitute plane. But that may be tricky, since the airline has only nine planes total, five of them of the same type as the plane stuck at the local airport. There may be an issue with crew qualifications that would prevent the airline from using four of its planes.

And it may be even trickier for a basketball team with players soaring toward seven feet; most of the charter company's planes are configured with coach seats only. Sometimes planes can be reconfigured with first and business class. We'll see.

Check in with FC for updates!!

✔✔✔✔ Apparently -- amid the frustration of being stuck in an airport, never boarding or even seeing the jet -- someone raised the possibility of the team and coaches flying on commercial planes, forgetting the charter.

But at 11 PM, Coach K turned thumbs down on that.

The Chronicle's Taylor Doherty -- traveling with the team on the uber-expensive charter -- had this quote from Coach K during the last of several meetings he called at the airport for everyone on the trip: “We’re all going on this trip together, and I can’t tell you when yet, but we ain’t leaving unless you’re leaving,” Krzyzewski told those traveling with the team.

“We’re not flying commercially. We’re going to do this with the charter. We’re going to do it with all of you, and whenever they come out and present some options, then let’s figure out what all we’re going to do. Whether we leave at four this morning or four in the afternoon or whatever it is, we’re all going to do that together.”

The charter operator has provided overnight hotel rooms. The team and its supporters are now told to be at the airport at 10 AM for a noon-time departure. That's more than 20 hours late, as the original schedule was for 3 PM Sunday.

In earlier reporting on this trip, FC noted that Anthony Travel, a big outfit that handles sports travel for many large universities, had subcontracted with an airline we never heard of for an inferior plane. Our information from an agent at Anthony Travel was that the plane would need to stop in Alaska for fuel (many jets fly nonstop from NY to China) and that the plane was a narrow body, with coach seating 3 and 3, meaning you had a 33 percent chance of a middle seat for the grueling ride.

Some of that information is inconsistent with on-line information available from the charter airline. So we'll leave the issue of what kind of plane takes off -- if any -- up in the air, so to speak.

✔✔✔✔ At the airport, Coach K apparently did not address the obvious issue: after a grueling flight from the US, the team is losing a full day in China, a day to rest and catch up on sleep, and also have a light practice. On its revamped schedule -- as it stands right now -- the plane will likely arrive very late on Tuesday and then there is a bus ride, estimated at three hours, from Shanghai to a hotel west of Kunshan in the lake region. A tour of the new Duke Kunshan University is being slammed into Wednesday morning, and then the first game is scheduled for later Wednesday in Kunshan.

We still have no confirmation who will be playing Duke. Originally touted as a series of contests with the China national team, almost all its players are in London for a tournament at the site of the 2012 Olympics.

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