By Hayden Cox, Contributor
As part of an increasing effort to gain exposure for our small liberal arts university, Furman administrators announced that they hope to host games for March Madness this spring.
The NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament, commonly referred to as March Madness, is unarguably one of the best known sporting events in the United States. Last year 68 teams participated. According to CNN, the tournament had an average of 11.3 million viewers during the tournament. Because of this, March Madness has become one of the best platforms to promote themselves on a national level.
According to The Greenville News, a local committee including VisitGreenvilleSC, Bon Secours Wellness Arena, the Southern Conference and our very own Furman University has submitted a bid to the NCAA to host the events in Greenville. If Greenville wins the bid, it would be the first time the city has hosted the NCAA men’s tournament since 2002.
The NCAA announced Sept. 12 that they would be moving all championship tournament events out of North Carolina for the year, according to The New York Times. The conference decided to pull events out of North Carolina due to the “Bathroom Bill,” officially known as House Bill 2, that restricts transgender people from using the bathroom of their choice.
In a statement to The New York Times, the NCAA said: “NCAA Championships and events must promote an inclusive atmosphere for all college athletes, coaches, administrators and fans. Current North Carolina state laws make it challenging to guarantee that host communities can help deliver on that commitment.”
The announcement from the NCAA came soon after the NBA announced it would no longer be hosting its All Star Weekend in Charlotte. That includes six games in the first and second round of March Madness, scheduled to be played in Greensboro. The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) also announced moving their championships currently scheduled for North Carolina out of the state.
Bidding on games on such short notice has not happened in the NCAA for many years. Usually, the games’ locations are finalized years in advance to give both the NCAA and the host communities time to prepare for the event.
“This is all uncharted territory, not only for the NCAA but for most of us, to have such a quick turnaround,” said Mike Buddie, Furman’s athletics director, to The Greenville News.
Incidentally, Greenville lost their hosting privileges in the past due to similar reasons as Greensboro. The NCAA protested the flying of the Confederate flag at the South Carolina state house until it was removed last year.
Greenville and the Bon Secours Wellness Arena will likely compete on this bid for venues in Providence, Columbia, Orlando and larger cities from other states.
The NCAA will release their decisions concerning March Madness locations Oct. 7.