Could March Madness be on its way to Columbia, S.C.?
South Carolina athletics officials hope so. They submitted a bid to host the first and second rounds of the 2017 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, ESPN’s Andy Katz reports.
South Carolina confirms to ESPN that the Gamecocks will also put in a bid to host the 2017 NCAA men's tournament… https://t.co/xXaZAKtn5H
— Andy Katz (@ESPNAndyKatz) September 20, 2016
A sampling of the Gamecocks’ competition includes Providence College and, closer to home, Furman University, both reported by Katz to have also submitted bids.
The two South Carolina schools became eligible to host NCAA championship events once the state capitol removed the Confederate flag.
Another political issue, the controversial HB2 or “bathroom bill,” prompted the NCAA to move seven championship events from the state of North Carolina.
“We anticipated this may happen in N.C. and we’re ready to host in grand fashion if selected,” Furman University athletic director Mike Buddie told Katz.
The host sites for the 2016-18 NCAA tournament were announced in November 2014, including the first and second rounds of the 2017 tournament in Greensboro, N.C., but schools are now scrambling to get bids in to replace the 15,951-seat Greensboro Coliseum.
The 14-year-old Colonial Life Arena seats 18,000, while Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, S.C., home of Furman University, has a capacity of nearly 15,000 and is approaching 20 years of age. The Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, R.I., holds only 12,400 but is the most recently renovated of the bunch, getting updated in 2008.