Tournament officials decide to shift location to Oahu
It’s official. The 39th Annual Maui Invitational will be played on O‘ahu, from Nov. 20 to 22. Tournament officials attribute the necessity to relocate the event due to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s current use of Lahaina Civic Center as its Disaster Recovery Center for Maui wildfire recovery efforts.
“We understand that circumstances warrant moving the Tournament, which has been held on Maui for the 37 years,” says Dr. Lynn Babington, President of Chaminade University of Honolulu. “However, this year is like no other, and it will stand alone in history as one of the most difficult for our West Maui residents.”
Ironically, the tournament returns to the city where it all began. In 1982, Chaminade, then a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) school, shocked the collegiate sports world by defeating No. 1 Virginia, led by two-time national player of the year Ralph Sampson, in Honolulu.
Often considered one of the premier in-season tournaments, the 2023 Maui Invitational assembled one of the strongest fields in the tournament’s history with Gonzaga, Kansas, Marquette, Purdue, Syracuse, Tennessee, UCLA and Chaminade University, which has hosted this event for the past 36 years. Combined, the eight teams boast 263 NCAA Tournament appearances, 17 NCAA Tournament Championship Titles and three AP Coach of the Year award—Mark Few (2017), Bill Self (2009, 2016) and Shaka Smart (2023).
“While we have to move this year’s Tournament off of Maui, we are determined to celebrate and honor the culture and traditions that make this event so special,” says Tom Valdiserri, executive vice president of KemperSports LIVE, the operator of the Maui Invitational. “Throughout this process, we’ve seen the spirit of ‘ohana in action. Thank you to Governor Josh Green, Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, and Mayor Richard Bissen, as well as the staff at Chaminade University of Honolulu and the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa for working tirelessly with us to keep this tournament in Hawai‘i.”
Other college basketball programs across the country are showing their support for Maui through charity games and fundraisers. Michigan State hosts Tennessee on Oct. 29 in a charity exhibition, while Kansas and Illinois will do the same in Champaign, Illinois. Saint Mary’s will visit Honolulu on Oct. 20 to play an exhibition game against Hawaii at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Meanwhile, the Maui Invitational launched its Hoops for ‘Ohana online auction last week in partnership with Hawai‘i Community Foundation’s Maui Strong Fund. All the proceeds will go directly to wildfire relief and recovery efforts. Fans can bid on unique items donated by past Maui Jim Invitational basketball programs and Tournament partners.
“Although this year’s Invitational will be held on O‘ahu, Maui will forever remain in the hearts and minds of the teams who participate in it,” Babington says. “We feel a heightened responsibility to support our Maui neighbors, and we look forward to returning home to Lahaina in 2024.”