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USF-airport episode: Flight details rebut mom's allegations

The mother of USF guard Troy Holston alleges her son and teammate Geno Thorpe were left behind at a Houston airport after falling asleep at the gate, while the rest of the team made its flight to Tampa.

Times file photo

The mother of USF guard Troy Holston alleges her son and teammate Geno Thorpe were left behind at a Houston airport after falling asleep at the gate, while the rest of the team made its flight to Tampa.

28

February

Ever since a commercial jet took off Friday morning from Houston minus two prominent passengers, the public has been fed one prevailing narrative.

Two USF players asleep near the gate, an entire USF staff asleep on the job. Result: Bulls 22-year-old veterans Troy Holston Jr. and Geno Thorpe left stranded as the rest of the team made its flight to Tampa. 

Now, that version -- alleged by Holston's mother during a Twitter rant Friday afternoon -- is starting to crumble under heavier scrutiny.

Which is to say, the timeline appears to rebut the allegations leveled by Holston's mom.

According to flightaware.com, the first leg of the USF team flight (Southwest Flight 1881) left Tulsa -- where the Bulls had played the prior evening -- on Friday at 8:14 a.m. CST and arrived at Gate 43 of Houston's William P. Hobby Airport at 9:46 a.m.

The team's connecting flight, Southwest 766, departed at Gate 49 at 10:44 a.m. CST, meaning the Bulls' layover was all of 58 minutes.

Now consider the time it would've taken to de-board the flight from Tulsa and walk to the gate for the connection flight, and it's likely the 766 flight would've been close to boarding as soon as the Bulls reached the gate.

Southwest flights begin boarding as early as 30 minutes prior to scheduled departure time, according to the airline's website.

Could Thorpe and Holston have fallen asleep that quickly? Possibly.

Also bear in mind this was a commercial flight, meaning Thorpe and Holston -- as no-shows on the flight -- likely would've been paged more than once over the airport p.a. system. Is it possible they may have slept through the page? Sure.

Is it plausible?

Still, USF coach Murry Bartow has accepted responsibility for leaving the players behind, and the beleaguered program rightfully has been exposed to harsh criticism.

Moreover, few will argue a staffer should've been responsible for making sure every member of the Bulls' party boarded the plane. Holston and Thorpe were booked on the next available flight to Tampa and returned Friday afternoon, according to a statement issued Saturday by Bartow.

But perhaps it's time for USF to take the sword Bartow willingly fell upon, and use it to further dissect the initial version of what went down in Houston.

[Last modified: Tuesday, February 28, 2017 5:24pm]

    

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