GOP Lawmaker Accuses NCAA Team Buses of Being ‘Illegal Invaders’

Facebook/Matt Maddock
Facebook/Matt Maddock

March Madness took a hard right turn into out-and-out irrationality Wednesday evening, when a Republican member of the Michigan statehouse baselessly claimed three buses filled with college athletes were in fact “illegal invaders” descending on Detroit from the southern border.

“Happening right now,” state Rep. Matt Maddock posted on X, tagging Michigan GOP chair Pete Hoekstra. “Three busses [sic] just loaded up with illegal invaders at Detroit Metro. Anyone have any idea where they’re headed with their police escort?”

Maddock, an “ultra MAGA” Trump supporter whose wife was criminally charged as a so-called fake elector in the former president’s scheme to steal the 2020 election, attached two photographs as “proof,” showing a trio of charter buses on the tarmac at the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, next to a chartered Allegiant Air A320-214.

“How long till the #HostileMedia calls the invaders homesteaders?” Maddock followed up.

It didn’t take long for others to pour cold water on Maddock’s wild, unverified claim, pointing out that Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena will be hosting the NCAA men’s basketball tournament on Friday and Sunday.

“Sure kommie,” Maddock replied. “Good talking point.”

But the Wayne County Airport Authority debunked Maddock’s declaration on Thursday, telling The Daily Beast in an emailed statement, “The four men’s basketball teams competing in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 at Little Caesars Arena arrived at DTW Wednesday evening. The buses seen in a photograph circulating online were transporting the basketball teams and their respective staffs.”

Fifth-seed Gonzaga is appearing in the tourney’s regional quarterfinals—known as the “Sweet 16”—for the ninth straight time, tipping off against the number-one seeded Purdue Boilermakers on Friday night. The Bulldogs left Spokane on Wednesday aboard an Allegiant Air A320-214, landing at Detroit Metro last night at 7:26 local time, according to flight records. There are no direct flights between Spokane and Detroit; the only flight between the two cities on Wednesday was the Allegiant Air charter ferrying Gonzaga into town.

“Wheels up to the Motor City,” the team posted on X before boarding, clearly showing the Allegiant aircraft in the background. “Touched down in Motown,” they posted upon arrival.

Barrett Henderson, Gonzaga’s assistant athletic director, confirmed Thursday to The Daily Beast that the men’s basketball team did arrive at Detroit Metro on an Allegiant Air plane, and was picked up by charter bus. He said “a few other teams” also flew Allegiant to Detroit, and that there “were three buses there for another team at the time too.”

The Creighton University Bluejays are also playing the Tennessee Volunteers at Little Caesars Arena on Friday night, and posted pictures of themselves Wednesday afternoon leaving Omaha for Detroit, as well. (A Creighton spokeswoman declined to comment, saying all travel arrangements were made by the NCAA.) The Vols, for their part, shared video of the team leaving Knoxville on Wednesday, on a Delta flight, and arriving in the Motor City a couple of hours later.

On Thursday morning, after being excoriated online by people providing various forms of proof that the buses were for the NCAA players, Maddock dug in his heels.

“We know this is happening,” he posted. “100,000’s of illegals are pouring into our country. We know it’s happening in Michigan. Our own governor is offering money to take them in! Since we can’t trust the #FakeNews to investigate, citizens will. The process of investigating these issues takes time.”

To which one X user replied, “How did anyone think it was a good idea to elect you?”

Maddock, a full-time bail bondsman whose official bio says he is a volunteer bus driver for his church, did not respond to a request for comment.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get the Daily Beast's biggest scoops and scandals delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now.

Stay informed and gain unlimited access to the Daily Beast's unmatched reporting. Subscribe now.