On Nov. 5, 2017, South Carolina hosted Virginia Tech in an exhibition game at Colonial Life Arena. The event was rare because it was a couple of Power 5 schools publicly playing one another in the preseason. Such matchups normally go down as scrimmages behind closed doors.
A year later, the Gamecocks had plans to put on a similar event. First reported by The Post and Courier and further confirmed by North Carolina coach Roy Williams on Tuesday, USC and UNC were to play an exhibition game at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte to benefit those affected by Hurricane Florence — but the NCAA denied a waiver.
“I was dumbfounded when the waiver was not granted,” Williams told reporters in Chapel Hill, N.C.
The NCAA allows Division I programs to play fellow Division I programs in the preseason only if it’s a nonpublicized “secret” scrimmage or if the proceeds from the game go to charity. In total, teams can play two exhibition games/scrimmages.
South Carolina is already hosting Augusta University in an exhibition game at CLA on Oct. 26. Stadium’s Jeff Goodman reported Tuesday that USC will face Virginia Tech on Oct. 28 in its “closed scrimmage.” North Carolina hosts Mount Olive in an exhibition game on Nov. 2. UNC’s “closed scrimmage” is at Villanova on Oct. 20.
Both USC and UNC would presumably have to give up one of their above games to make their meeting possible.
“Our state and South Carolina had a terrible tragedy, a horrific storm come through, whatever you want to call it,” Williams said. “And I called Frank (Martin) to see if he would be interested in playing a game.
“I called him and said, ‘Nobody’s been hurt as badly as we have, North Carolina and South Carolina, with Florence.’ And we asked for a waiver to see if we could play. I’m not trying to gain an advantage on anybody, I don’t think we can gain an advantage on anybody, but we were willing to play each other.
“I wanted to take it to Charlotte because it would be closer between the two schools, and play a game and give all the money – all the money – to (relief efforts). And I was going to try to convince a guy that I know pretty well that owns the building in Charlotte (former UNC star and current Hornets chairman Michael Jordan) to give us a great rate.”
Williams said he still doesn’t understand why the waiver was denied.
“Some rule had been put in that they weren’t going to give waivers (because) we already had the other two games,” Williams said. “And, guys, if you guys can convince me how that was going to help North Carolina’s basketball team or South Carolina’s basketball team over somebody else, then I’ll listen to it. But that was not the intent.
“When you see the scenes of people’s stuff out on the street, you want to do something. And that’s sadly what we saw. We saw so many situations, people losing everything they have. And we had what I thought was one of the few good ideas I’ve ever had.”