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Dear NCAA, I Was Punked Too, So Can I Come To the Final Four As Well?

Friday, January 29, 2010 , Posted by Christopher Byrne at 10:11 AM, under ,

Dear powers that be at the NCAA,

I have to say up front that as a height-challenged college basketball junkie with a left-handed hook shot that nobody fears, I have always wanted to go to a Men's Final Four. I have been to lots of sub-regionals, and one regional championship, but never to the last dance. I am wondering that since your organization has graciously invited Olathe (Kan.) Northwest High School head girls basketball coach Joel Branstrom, and his family, to the 2010 Final Four as your guests, can my family and I be invited as well?

Why do I ask you to give tickets to me and my family? It really comes down to that fact that I have been punked by this action of yours.

This invitation you have extended to former Kansas walk-on Branstrom is a great way for the NCAA to get free "feel-good" publicity. Indeed, your organization has also found a great way for you all to help teach the students at Olathe Northwest High School about responsibility and accepting the consequences of their actions.

Now of my hard work in teaching my student-athlete children about the importance of doing the right thing, about taking responsibility, and accepting consequences for bad choices has been thrown out with the bath water by your organization.

I also have been punked by the fact that your organization will punish a student-athlete for the slightest mistake or transgression, yet you are willing to give this coach and his family an expenses paid trip to one of the toughest tickets in sports because of a stupid, poorly thought out prank by the Olathe Northwest High School student body.

If you cannot see the wisdom of this request, could you do me a favor? Could you at least send a bill to the Olathe Northwest High School student council for the street value of the tickets (not the NCAA published price) and for the entire trip. That way they will have to come up with the money to pay for it, and learn a valuable life lesson that poorly thought out actions/decisions do have consequences?


p.s. If he is a girl's basketball coach, why was he not invited to the Women's Final Four instead?

Here is the the full NCAA Press release for readers who have not heard the invitation.


INDIANAPOLIS---The Kansas high school basketball coach who became an Internet and news sensation after improbably sinking a half-court shot during a school pep rally will attend the 2010 NCAA Men's Final Four after all – as a guest of the NCAA.

Joel Branstrom, head girls basketball coach at Olathe (Kan.) Northwest High School, took the
shot while blindfolded during a pep rally at the school's gymnasium Jan. 22. Students told the popular coach that if he made the shot he would receive tickets to the Men's Final Four.

What they did not plan for was the former Kansas University walk-on to actually make the
shot. When he did, stunned and ecstatic students celebrated, but those who organized the contest had one problem: they did not actually have tickets for Branstrom to go the Final Four. Once video taken by the schools multimedia department surfaced online, the story received national attention.

“When they dressed me up and put a blindfold on me, I was prepared to get hit in the face with
a pie,” said Branstrom. “I didn't know for over a minute that I actually made it. If it wasn't on tape, Iprobably still wouldn't believe it.”

“This is a unique circumstance – Coach Branstrom is an educator, former student-athlete, head
women's basketball coach, and apparently, a pretty good outside shot. When we first got word of Coach's shot, this was a no-brainer‟ – he'll be in Indianapolis as a guest of the Association,” said Greg Shaheen, the NCAA's senior vice president for basketball and business strategies.

“The fact that he took the prank in good stride speaks volumes about his character. We're excited to have Joel and his family at the Final Four as guests of the NCAA.”

“Even though I was part of a great team at the University of Kansas, we didn‟t make it to the
Final Four when I played,” Branstrom said. “I am excited for the opportunity to participate in the
greatest weekend of basketball at the 2010 Final Four.”

The Final Four takes place April 3 and 5 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

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