SALEM — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown was there when the University of Oregon men’s basketball team lost its NCAA Final Four match against the University of North Carolina by one point.
Gov. Brown left an event at the Oregon Veterans’ Home in Lebanon Friday afternoon in order to catch her flight to the game, which was held Saturday in Glendale, Ariz.
According to the Governor’s Office, the trip was paid for by the governor’s campaign. Gov. Brown is running for reelection next year.
A spokesman for the governor referred questions about the governor’s attendance to her campaign, and questions about the costs of having her security detail travel with her to the Oregon State Police, which employs the governor’s dignitary protection unit.
Thomas Wheatley, Brown’s campaign manager, said the campaign paid for all costs — including airfare, lodging, and tickets — for the trip, except for the costs for the security team, which is “standard protocol,” Wheatley said in an email Monday.
Brown traveled with her husband and a staff member. The campaign paid for their travel as well, Wheatley said.
Wheatley said Brown is a “big fan” of the Oregon Ducks and other Oregon college sports teams and wanted to “support Oregon’s team.”
The governor did not accept any gifts as part of the trip.
“I am so proud of my Ducks,” Brown told KOIN news in an interview posted to the station’s YouTube channel Saturday night. “They did an amazing job tonight. They are an incredible team, and I just love watching them, and Oregon should be proud of our Oregon Ducks tonight.”
Oregon State Police did not answer inquiries by deadline about costs associated with sending her security detail to the game.
Running the dignitary protection unit at its current size — seven full-time employees and 16 seasonal positions — is expected to cost the state’s general fund about $2.5 million in the upcoming budget cycle, according to the Legislative Fiscal Office.
This year marks the first time the University of Oregon’s team made it to the Final Four since 1939, when the NCAA tournament started. That year the team — then called the Tall Firs — won the tournament.
In contrast, Oregon’s opponent, the University of North Carolina, makes it to the final rounds of the NCAA tournament almost as a matter of routine, and has won the championship five times — most recently in 2009.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is a fellow Democrat, and an apparent college basketball fan. He posed for a photo with his NCAA bracket in March and posted it to Twitter.
However, Cooper did not attend Saturday’s game, according to his press office.