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A case for Carolina basketball, charity, and Carmichael

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UNC should build off of last year’s inter-state “Jamboree”.

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, you may remember that UNC’s men’s basketball program hosted a four-team exhibition event in order to raise money for charity. Men’s basketball teams from UNC-Wilmington, UNC-Greensboro, and East Carolina made the trip to Chapel Hill to take part in a basketball “jamboree” event. Those four teams just coincidentally were coached by former Tar Heel players or coaches in Jeff Lebo, C.B. McGrath, Wes Miller, and Roy Williams.

The round-robin style event was designed so all four teams competed against each other, in approximately 13 minute segments. The intent was each team played 40 minutes against Division-I competition, in an effort to take advantage of a then-recently passed NCAA rule. After Hurricane Irma, the NCAA allowed for a previously unscheduled exhibition if the proceeds went to charity specializing in catastrophic event relief. Last season, proceeds from the game went to the N.C. Disaster Relief Fund. Tickets cost $20.

It was a phenomenon that spread through the college basketball world, and charity events were held around the country. Last week, West Virginia and Penn State got the party started when they announced that the men’s basketball programs would play each other. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that these games will be as abundant as last year.

This season, the NCAA amended the rule so that teams can only play two exhibition games (that part is new), and these games must be against non-Division I competition (that part is not new). If a team has already scheduled two exhibition games, they cannot request a third charity game like they could last year. Kansas and Missouri, who raised over $2 million from their game against each other, have recently expressed frustration over this dilemma.

Don’t worry though. If you were hoping for a repeat of last year with the Heels, I have good news.

Mount Olive’s visit to the Dean Dome on November 2 is the only exhibition on UNC’s 2018-19 schedule.

AND!

If teams do not have a second exhibition scheduled, they can play a Division-I opponent as a second exhibition game, if that contest is used to raise money for charity.

What better way to continue last year’s event and start a new tradition in North Carolina basketball than to host an annual charity exhibition? Obviously, this year’s event could be used to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Florence.

This hypothetical event (that definitely should happen), could follow any of the following formats:

  • Same four-team, round-robin format as last year
  • 4-8 teams participate, but play a full 40-minute game against one opponent. This would provide a more realistic game atmosphere for fans, players, and coaches.
  • UNC hosts one major D-I program for maximum exposure and fundraising.
  • Any combination of the above.

Wouldn’t most fans be interested in, say, a UNC-Greensboro vs UNC-Wilmington contest followed by a UNC-SCAR matchup? Especially if they were treated as real games, only cost $20, and went to a worthwhile cause? Each year could bring in different opponents and/or charitable causes.

If you are nodding your head in agreement with everything I have proposed, good. Hold on, though. There’s more.

Last season, the four teams drew approximately 5,000 fans. Not a shabby number considering how quickly the event was thrown together. Unfortunately, in the cavernous Smith Center that doesn’t lend itself to the most exciting atmosphere.

Fortunately, there is another location on UNC’s campus that is used for basketball events. One that is more suited for smaller crowds. A site that even has historical ties to UNC basketball. A place that older fans reminisce about and young fans have never experienced.

Naturally, this preseason event should be held at Carmichael Auditorium.

Last February, Inside Carolina’s Nolan Hayes explored the idea of using Carmichael for a regular season game. I won’t go into the details – you can read those here – but the main points of contention were revenue, scheduling home games, and more revenue. As is often the case, it’s an economic issue. Carolina Blue may be the favorite color of many Tar Heel fans, but the reality is athletic departments prefer green to any school color. A regular season game in Carmichael would cause numerous headaches.

A preseason charity exhibition would solve most, if not all, of these problems.

  • A game currently isn’t on the schedule, so there isn't much (any?) revenue to be lost.
  • The demands of season-ticket holders wouldn’t need much (any?) consideration.
  • The school can pay homage to the building and program’s history.
  • The atmosphere would be an improvement over most November regular season games.
  • If turned into an annual event in late October, then it can be combined with a home football game. A new dual-sport recruiting weekend now exists. You’re welcome.

This is not a perfect solution. There are details that would have to be hashed out. Opponents could be hard to come by. People could suffer from charity-fatigue. Nonetheless, is there anyone who thinks this is an outrageous idea?

Call it “Carolina Charity in Carmichael”. (Yes, I’m a fan of alliteration. Sorry. Not. Sorry.)

Bubba, if you’re reading this (highly unlikely), call me. Write me. Tweet at me. Leave a comment.

Let’s make this happen.