Michigan legislator misidentifies Gonzaga basketball buses as 'illegal invaders'


Gonzaga University's men's basketball team has been called a lot of things during its 25-year stretch of greatness. But "illegal invaders?"

That was a new low pushed on the social media platform X by a Republican state representative from Michigan who was convinced that tour buses carrying Zags players and coaches on Wednesday in Detroit were somehow up to no good.

Matt Maddock, who represents the Detroit suburb of Milford, is notorious for peddling misinformation, conspiracies and participating in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.

So, as the Zags arrived in Detroit for the next round of the NCAA Tournament, Maddock made his leap.

"Happening right now. Three busses just loaded up with illegal invaders at Detroit Metro. Anyone have any idea where they're headed with their police escort?" the full post said.

It included pictures of an Allegiant Air plane and three tour buses at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport.

The Wayne County Airport Authority confirmed in an email that four men's basketball teams competing in the Sweet 16 arrived Wednesday evening.

"The buses seen in a photograph circulating online were transporting the basketball teams and their respective staffs," the airport authority said in an email.

Gonzaga Basketball's X account posted photos and video of the team arriving in Motown Wednesday night that included the team boarding and disembarking on the Allegiant aircraft and practicing at Little Caesar's Arena in Detroit.

Below Maddock's post was a fact-check disclaimer from X that read, "The buses and police escort are for the Gonzaga University men's basketball team, who are playing a Sweet Sixteen game at Little Caesar's Arena in Detroit on Fri. 3/29."

Barret Henderson, Gonzaga's assistant director of athletics, said the team arrived on an Allegiant flight at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time, but he said he could not say for sure the three buses in the photo were the same buses the team boarded since there were similar buses waiting for another team.

Allegiant is a small airline that does not typically fly to Detroit. The other teams playing in Detroit are Purdue, Creighton and Tennessee.

Maddock, who has been a representative since 2019, did not respond to interview requests Thursday, but defended his post in the comments, writing, "We know this is happening. 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."

The legislator tagged the new chairman of the Michigan Republican Party Pete Hoekstra, who reposted it.

The airport is not in Maddock's district.

Maddock has a reputation for spreading misinformation about the 2020 election.

He spoke at a Donald Trump rally in Washington, D.C., the day before Jan. 6, where he called on Mike Pence not to count Michigan's electoral votes for Joe Biden, the Detroit Free Press reported at the time.

His wife, Meshawn Maddock, was co-chair of the Michigan GOP from 2021 to 2023 and was indicted last year in connection to a scheme to submit a slate of fake electors in support of Trump in the 2020 election.

Matt Maddock was ousted by the Republican caucus in 2022 for allegedly leaking internal discussions and was readmitted at the start of his next term in January 2023.

The Gonzaga team will board buses and travel with a police escort Friday when it will arrive at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit for its game.

Gonzaga will tip off against Purdue at  4:30 p.m. Pacific on Friday.