Michigan State will host Tennessee and Hawai’i will face Saint Mary’s in exhibition games to raise money for relief efforts in the aftermath of the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century.
Michigan State announced Wednesday that it will play the Volunteers on Oct. 29 at the Breslin Center and that all proceeds will be given to the Hawai’i Community Foundation Maui Strong Fund. Saint Mary’s will travel to Honolulu to face Hawai’i on Oct. 20, the team announced.
Maui’s historic seaside community of Lahaina was devastated by a wildfire, leaving more than 100 dead and an unknown number of people missing.
“It’s hard to put into words how we are all feeling for Maui and its tremendous community,” Hawai’i coach Eran Ganot said in a statement. “The devastation of the nation’s worst wildfire in more than 100 years has hit us all, near and far. Beyond our immediate thoughts and prayers, it has left us searching for ways we can help. … It’s been inspiring to see the full power of Hawai’i and our people during this tragedy. We encourage all to continue to find ways to support.”
Michigan State has played in the Maui Invitational five times and is scheduled to return to the tournament in 2024.
“The Maui Invitational and the city of Lahaina have always held a special place in my heart,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “The images we’ve all seen and the stories we’ve heard following the wildfires have touched so many of us in the college basketball world and I know that our thoughts and prayers are with all of those who have been affected.”
It is unclear what the status is of this season’s Maui Invitational.
“Our main concern right now is the safety and well-being of our Maui ‘Ohana and the first responders that we know are doing everything in their power to keep the island safe,” a message reads on the tournament website. “We will share more information as it becomes available.”
Tennessee hosted Michigan State in a scrimmage last year, and the programs previously planned to face off again this year. Recently, both coaches agreed to allow the public to watch them play in a charity game.
“While we certainly need to continue to pray for the families in Maui who have been impacted, this benefit game will enable us to offer tangible support toward the restoration of Maui and its beautiful spirit,” Volunteers coach Rick Barnes said.
Saint Mary’s coach Randy Bennett, who mentored Ganot as an assistant coach for the Gaels, said it was an “extra bonus for our team to help those in need.”
“The wildfires in Maui are a great tragedy and we are grateful for the opportunity to help those in need through this game,” Bennett said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.