Other Georges Curious; Some George Masons Will Root for the School That Shares Their Name

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Byline: FRANCINE KING

Indianapolis store clerks and cashiers have offered clever remarks whenever George William Mason has used his credit card the last few days.

Some even have asked him if he owns the university that bears the same name -- and is receiving an abundance of national attention, thanks to the surprising NCAA Tournament run by its men's basketball team.

"I don't mind," Mason said of the ribbing he has received since the Patriots defeated Connecticut on Sunday to earn a trip to his hometown for the Final Four. "It's a big joke. I'm pretty easy going, after a few years of seasoning."

Mason, 79, said he's a descendent of GMU's namesake, one of the nation's founding fathers. Despite his connection to the original George, however, Mason said he won't stay in town for the Patriots' game against Florida on Saturday night -- he already had made plans to visit his son in New Jersey.

"We'll probably take a little bit of it on the tube," said Mason, who admitted he would pull for GMU. "It'd be nice to have a little school win it, wouldn't it?"

The Patriots also will have some fans in Florida.

Dorothy Mason of Naples said she would root for the school that shares her husband's name and even wear a George Mason sweatshirt that her brother bought her a few years ago.

"It's just a joke in the family," she said. "My brother called me [Sunday] to tell me he was cheering for George Mason."

But Dorothy won't be overly disappointed if the Patriots lose this weekend -- she's a Gators fan.

George Mason of Stuart won't have such divided loyalties. His favorite team and alma mater was ousted last week by LSU.

"I'm a Duke fan, so I'm not particularly crazy about the Final Four [this year]," said Mason, 62. …