In a letter to the North Carolina General Assembly, the North Carolina Sports Association said that the state is on the verge of losing NCAA championship events through 2022 unless House Bill 2 is repealed. That would mean a six-year hiatus of any NCAA tournament events being held in the state across all sports. You can read the full letter here.
According to the letter, the NCAA’s review and consideration of bids began in January. The NCAA has already made their stance on HB2 known by pulling all championship events out of the state for 2017, and would do so through the spring of 2022 unless the state repeals. The NC Sports Association says that North Carolina will be removed from consideration for any of those events through a process that begins for the NCAA in the next week to ten days.
That leaves a very short window for action in the North Carolina legislature. Of course, the matter goes beyond just the NCAA. The ACC also pulled their games out of North Carolina following the NCAA’s decision months ago. The NBA relocated their All-Star Game from Charlotte because of the bill as well.
All of that adds up to a huge economic loss for the state of North Carolina. The letter estimates that the loss in revenue from the loss of NCAA games and beyond could be somewhere around half a billion dollars. North Carolina has submitted 133 bids to the NCAA, which would account for $250 million in revenue alone upon a conservative estimate, according to the letter.
UNC basketball comes into play here in a very obvious way: the important home court advantage. Carolina has had great success in the NCAA Tournament when starting out in places like Greensboro, Raleigh, and Charlotte. Those games essentially become home games for the Tar Heels. Playing tough games in March in a building that sounds more like the Dean Dome than a neutral site is probably a big help.
There was a glimpse of that on Sunday in UNC’s game against Notre Dame at the Greensboro Coliseum. There was hardly anyone not wearing Carolina colors in the building, and it was very loud all afternoon. The atmosphere was about as electric as any at the Smith Center, and yet it may be the last time that they play a game like that in that venue for quite some time.
Roy Williams loved the energy the crowd in Greensboro provided his team on Sunday, and spoke out against HB2 in his postgame comments.
Full text of Roy's answer when asked about playing in Greensboro today. pic.twitter.com/aVhJ186BhO— Brant Wilkerson-New (@BrantGNR) February 5, 2017
All of Carolina’s sports teams, from football to men’s soccer to women’s tennis and beyond, would be have a bigger advantage if they were allowed to play in a city full of Tar Heels fans instead of on the road.
Time is running out for North Carolina to put a stop to what is already in motion. Having all games removed for one year was one thing, but six years feels entirely different. A decision will have to be made one way or another very soon.