March Madness: New England Patriots Lend Plane To Providence For Game Against Kansas

The Friars will face No. 1-seeded Kansas in Chicago this Friday as part of the “Sweet 16” round.

CHICAGO — Providence coach Ed Cooley is a huge New England Patriots fan, and now he has a new reason to root for his favorite NFL team.

The Patriots loaned Providence the team plane to help transport program staff and some fans to Chicago for Friday’s matchup of the NCAA tournament in the “Sweet 16” round against Kansas, No. 1 in the sowing. The plane was spotted on the tarmac at TF Green Airport in Providence for a noon departure Thursday, according to the Providence Journal. Providence, the No. 4 seed, is making his first appearance in the top 16 since 1997.


Cooley, who grew up in Providence and has spent his entire career in the Northeast, spoke Wednesday night with Patriots owner Robert Kraft. The Providence team took a separate flight to Chicago on Wednesday.

“It’s New England teams rooting for New England teams,” Cooley said. “Our families can come, our donors can come, our fans can come. I really appreciate that you take care of us like that. Given the number of teams that are used for the NIT, for the NCAA tournament, it was just limited.”

“I don’t know how many people would do that for a small school, literally send their personalized plane, the plane with their logo on it,” Providence coach Ed Cooley said. EPA

Cooley said he spoke with Kraft regarding his appreciation for former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who has inspired him throughout his coaching career. Coincidentally, Cooley dined Wednesday night with New York Giants vice president Frank Mara, a longtime donor to Providence.

But, his NFL allegiances are clear, and he thanked Kraft for lending the aircraft.

“I don’t know how many people would do that for a small school, literally send their personalized plane, the plane with their logo on it,” Cooley said. “I’m pretty sure a lot of our fans will be on board, they’re big Patriots fans. I love football. My team looks like a football team. We’re not very pretty.”

Cooley often discusses college basketball’s blue blood programs, and includes Kansas in that category. He said Providence doesn’t face too many traditional powerhouses outside of Villanova in the Big East, citing a reluctance by those schools to face the Friars in their arena.

“They don’t want to come to Dunkin’ Donuts Center, let’s call it exactly what it is,” Cooley said. “We would like that opportunity and we accept that opportunity.”

Cooley added of facing Kansas on Friday: “They’re blue bloods. I know they’re one win away from the all-time mark in the history of our game. They’ve earned it. Coach [Bill] Self is a Hall of Fame coach, great players, great team … the chance to play against a No. 1 seed is something, the stuff you dream about. And we are living that dream and hopefully we can continue to dream big.”



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