Former ‘Nova player at forefront of Yayo booking

Alessandro Roco

Last Friday night marked one of the biggest nights the Pavilion has ever hosted. Hoops Mania 2006 was a great success as fans welcomed both new and familiar faces.

But the biggest story of the night was not the Blue vs. White Scrimmage. Hoops Mania left all those in attendance wondering one thing: how did Villanova get 50 Cent and Tony Yayo to perform?

This week, several rumors circulated around who coordinated the arrangements and what exactly the arrangements were.

Brian Papson, Director of Marketing and Special Events, said that contact with Yayo was established between Jay Wright, men’s head basketball coach, and Tim Thomas, a former player of the men’s basketball team who now plays for the Los Angeles Clippers.

Papson could not discuss the financial details that eventually led Yayo, and consequently 50 Cent, to Villanova.

However, he did say that “it definitely was way, way less than that,” in response to the rumor that $500,000 was spent to book the two G-Unit members.

The special events of Hoops Mania, Papson said, were run through Wright. After the success and turnout of last year’s Hoops Mania, Wright was persistent in raising the entertainment for theis year’s event

“Tim and Coach Wright were the ones who worked on getting Tony Yayo,” Papson said, “but it was only supposed to be Tony Yayo. We had heard of the possibility of 50 Cent coming, but we definitely were not expecting it.”

“Tim is a big friend of me and 50 and all of G-Unit,” Yayo said. “He said he had a contact with the school and that Jay Wright was trying to figure out who was the biggest name in the business right now. Tim gave them my name, and everything else just happened.”

What people at the University did not know, however, was that Yayo had his own surprise for the 5,500-6,000 people in attendance.

According to Yayo, 50 Cent performed as a favor to his friend.

“[Villanova] only had me scheduled to come, but I called up 50, who’s like a brother to me, and he said he wanted to roll up,” Yayo said. “Jay Wright wanted to surprise the students by having me there, so I had to outdo him and surprise everyone with 50.”

For Yayo, the experience of being at Hoops Mania was an unbelievable one. His highlights were coaching alongside Ed Pinckney and performing in front of such an energetic and enthusiastic crowd.

“It was crazy,” Yayo said. “The crowd screaming ‘Tony Yayo’ made me feel like I was back on the Anger Management tour with 50, Eminem and everyone from G-Unit. My adrenaline was runnin’ wild, and with everyone with their ‘V’s up when I was performing, it was really exciting.”

What also made Yayo feel good about his Villanova experience was the hospitality shown by Wright. Yayo said that Wright offered Yayo a free ticket to a basketball game if Yayo was ever in the area.

“I’m a big fan of basketball in general, and being at Villanova, I’m definitely getting into this team, Yayo said. ” I’m now a Villanova fan. If I’m ever back in the area, I’m definitely gonna take Jay up on his offer.”

Yayo and Wright first met in New Jersey at a softball tournament organized by Thomas. Confirmation of Yayo’s performance came early last week.

Papson said it was essential that only a small number of people were involved in the Yayo booking.

However, even though Yayo was booked, no one knew about 50 Cent.

“We literally didn’t know that he was coming until he showed up at the Pavilion,” Papson admitted. After that, we just reacted on-the-fly, but things really seemed to just fall in place. Coach and Tim did a great job, and Tim was especially instrumental.”