The 2016-17 college basketball season commences tomorrow, Veterans Day, from the fifth annual State Farm Armed Forces Classic (AFC), just under a month before the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The doubleheader – pitting preseason ranked No. 10 Arizona against No. 12 Michigan State (7 p.m. ET) and No. 11 Indiana versus No. 3 Kansas (9 p.m.) on ESPN – will be staged at the Stan Sheriff Center on the campus of the University of Hawaii in Honolulu with surrounding events at the U.S. Navy Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
ESPN Events stages the AFC as well as the Hawai’i Bowl and the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu around the Christmas holiday. They are run by Daryl Garvin, executive director of the local events, and his team of Tamarah Tabor, director of operations and Gianni Minga, event manager.
Garvin, who has been with ESPN Events in different capacities since 2008 and executive director since May 2015, added the Armed Forces Classic to his team’s responsibilities this year.
An Army veteran, the Armed Forces Classic – a series of Division I men’s college basketball games that are televised from the United States military bases around Veterans Day as a morale event for service members and aired on ESPN – has special meaning for Garvin.
Front Row caught up with Garvin as he enters the busiest time of year for his Honolulu-based team.
In helping with the planning of the Armed Forces Classic, how have your local ties been valuable to the ESPN Events team?
Our Honolulu team is in the market year-round creating a logistical advantage that can’t be matched when managing an event from thousands of miles away, like our ESPN Events team does with so many of its properties.
— Andy Katz (@TheAndyKatz) November 10, 2016
Being an Army veteran, what meaning does it have to help stage the AFC for ESPN?
It has come full circle for me. When I was a young private stationed in Alaska, I was fortunate enough to receive tickets donated to the Army to attend the 1979 Great Alaska Shootout [college basketball tournament]. I still remember the excitement surrounding the final between a Jeff Ruland-led Iona team against the heavy favorite Kentucky, featuring Kyle Macy and Sam Bowie. Now, it is my turn to help create memories that will last a lifetime for our service members and their families.
What are you most looking forward to this weekend?
As a huge basketball fan, I’m looking forward to the games and level of competition.
What meaning do you think it has for the student-athletes to visit Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Pearl Harbor and the historic ships at the base?
To visit Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and The USS Arizona Memorial, so close to Veterans Day, brings it home to the student-athletes about the risk and sacrifices that other college-aged men and women have volunteered and fought so hard for.
— Kansas Basketball (@KUHoops) November 9, 2016