The aftermath of the state of North Carolina passing the controversial HB2 law has resulted in the relocation of many events originally scheduled to be held there. Most notably, in the sporting world, this includes the 2017 NBA All-Star game being moved from Charlotte to New Orleans, the ACC’s decision to hold all neutral-site championships outside the state, and, as of last Monday, the NCAA’s announcement that they are moving seven championships - including first and second round NCAA men’s basketball tournament games set to be played in Greensboro - to another site.
With bids due for the opening round games due a week from today, it looks like the University of South Carolina will be among the potential sites. ESPN’s Andy Katz reported this morning that the Gamecocks will enter a bid to host the matchups at Colonial Life Arena in March. Of course, as recently as last year, this wasn’t a possibility as the NCAA had prohibited the state of South Carolina from bidding on predetermined championships due to the controversy surrounding the flying of the Confederate flag at the South Carolina State House before it was removed. (This, of course, didn’t include women’s basketball tournament games, which saw their first two rounds played at the sites of the top sixteen seeds.)
Columbia is not the only possibility within the state to host the tournament games. Katz reported that Furman University and the Southern Conference will bid to host the games at Greenville’s Bon Secours Wellness Arena. Outside of the state, Providence College will submit a bid with the Big East to hold the games at Providence’s Dunkin Donuts Center. Philadelphia and the Big 5 teams there were considering submitting a bid at the historic Palestra, but the arena’s size and age make it unlikely it would even be considered, Katz reported.
It would obviously be a huge boost to the region if Columbia were selected to replace Greensboro as a site. There are logistical hurdles to cross, of course, especially with six months to get everything ready, but the university is determined to give it a shot.
Update and clarification: While Katz reported that the university will submit a bid, they haven’t as of yet. It’s still under consideration according to AD Ray Tanner.
USC AD Ray Tanner says that USC has NOT submitted a bid to host a 2017 NCAA men's regional. Still considering it.— David Cloninger (@DCTheState) September 20, 2016