SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Paul Mills saga took another twist Thursday morning.
In a reversal of comments from the Oral Roberts men’s basketball head coach last week, Mills posted a public “huge thank you” to the Summit League and people in Sioux Falls.
In a tweet Thursday, Mills said “A HUGE THANK YOU to The Summit League & the people in Sioux Falls who work tirelessly to put on a 1st class event. The people, often volunteers, who work these events are so kind & accommodating as they pour over every detail each & every year. Please know we are grateful! #CARE.”
Oral Roberts went 21-0 in the Summit League this year and beat North Dakota State 92-58 to win its second tournament championship in three years. Mills was loudly “booed” by the crowds at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center each time his name was announced.
After the championship game, Mills said he made his comments to stop other media narratives that he called “rat poison” in reference to a quote from Alabama football coach Nick Saban.
“I said some things this week about cold. I didn’t know how much traction it’d get,” Mills said after his team won its second tournament title in three years. “What I was really trying to do is get everybody’s attention. Maybe they’ll bite on this and not ask us if we’re as good as the SDSU team a year ago or are we as good as that Sweet 16 team.”
Mills said he didn’t want his team “caught up in any nonsense.”
Mills’ pre-tournament comments to a Tulsa, Oklahoma TV station ended up being a big part of this year’s tournament story. He questioned the new 10-team format of the Summit League Tournament and the location of the tournament, which has been held in Sioux Falls for the past 15 years.
Mills said someone who hasn’t attended the Summit League Tournament in Sioux Falls could expect “frigid cold, negative 10 degrees so everybody has to go inside.”
“Everybody is either an alum of South Dakota so they’re in red, or South Dakota State so they’re in blue,” Mills said. “You can see it through the television screen, it’s 10,000 people. Very vocal; good group. If you see any other teams playing, it’s probably not a very full arena, but they do show up and support their own.”
A total of 57,165 people attended 20 games played over five days at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center, according to numbers released by the Summit League.