South Carolina is considering bidding on the 2017 NCAA men’s tournament regional that was taken out of Greensboro, N.C., but has not submitted a bid, athletics director Ray Tanner said on Tuesday.
“We have not submitted a bid,” Tanner said in reference to an ESPN report claiming the contrary. “We’re considering it, but we have not submitted a bid.”
Columbia and Colonial Life Arena are thought to be potential destinations for the regional, which was stripped from Greensboro last week by the NCAA in response to the state’s controversial HB2 law. The 18,000-seat arena has been championed by national media as a great choice for the regional, both in terms of proximity (either Duke or North Carolina, projected top seeds for the next tournament, could play there) and in reference to HB2.
The NCAA’s ban of predetermined championship events in South Carolina ended when the Confederate flag in front of the Statehouse was lowered in July 2015. The state almost immediately claimed an event when the SEC awarded its 2017 women’s basketball tournament to Greenville’s Bon Secours Wellness Arena.
Yet USC is taking its time considering the NCAA bid, which has to be submitted by Sept. 27. One of the biggest reasons is what it would do to the Gamecocks’ women’s team.
Dawn Staley’s program has become a national leader in attendance and has earned two straight years of hosting in NCAA tournaments. The Gamecocks are expected to earn another host site in 2017, which would conflict with the men’s regional. The arena can’t host men’s and women’s regionals at the same time because of NCAA rules.
“It’s likely that there would be a conflict, and that’s part of our discussion on should we consider that going forward,” said Tanner, who has spoken to Staley about the possibility. “If you were a coach and you had an opportunity to play at home, and you didn’t get that chance, it certainly would affect her, but certainly, coach Staley understands the impact that it could make for the city of Columbia and the University of South Carolina.”
Bids have to be submitted by Sept. 27 with an NCAA decision date of Oct. 7. The bidding process is about 90 percent done, according to Columbia Regional Sports Council Executive Director Scott Powers, but they’re waiting on a final call from USC and another factor.
Columbia has to have hotel rooms for teams in the regional and is working to open rooms. “The hotels, and those types of things around town, are conflicting,” Powers said.
The NCAA already told CLA that it doesn’t have to get new letters of recommendation or documentation for the 2017 bid, because it has already submitted a bid for a men’s regional from 2019-22.
Greenville plans to submit a bid for 2017, with BSW Arena the site and Furman the host. If USC does wind up hosting an NCAA men’s regional, and sees USC’s women’s team earn a home postseason bid, BSW or other in-state arenas could be potential landing spots for USC. That could also be the case if USC wins a men’s regional from 2019-22.
“I’m not exactly sure,” Tanner said. “I think that could be a possibility, but I’m not exactly sure there.”
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