More capacity crowds at Colonial Life Arena could be the case if a 2017 NCAA men’s basketball regional is awarded. Tracy Glantz
More capacity crowds at Colonial Life Arena could be the case if a 2017 NCAA men’s basketball regional is awarded. Tracy Glantz

College Sports

Could Columbia, CLA benefit from Monday’s NCAA decision?

By David Cloninger

September 12, 2016 09:27 PM

North Carolina’s loss could be South Carolina’s gain.

The NCAA announced late Monday that it was removing several championship events from the state of North Carolina because of the controversial HB2 law (“Bathroom Bill”). One of those events, the first and second rounds of the next men’s NCAA Tournament scheduled for Greensboro, N.C., will be awarded somewhere else.

Columbia’s Colonial Life Arena is a possibility.

“Columbia has made it known that it would be willing to host the first two rounds in 2017 or 2018, when Charlotte is scheduled to host,” said Ron Morris, the coordinator of the city’s bid to host a men’s regional, in an email.

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Charlotte’s 2018 bid hasn’t been removed, but considering the NCAA pulled all predetermined events of 2016-17, it can’t be far behind should North Carolina not repeal the law. Morris, who organized Columbia’s bid for regionals to be awarded in 2019-22, estimates a winning bid could mean $10-15 million for the city.

The bid for 2019-22 has been submitted, and winners should be announced by late December. But the new announcement could bring earlier good news.

There are two drawbacks if USC wins a bid. If the Gamecocks men advance to the NCAA Tournament in a year CLA hosts a regional, they couldn’t play on their home floor. Despite that, Morris said coach Frank Martin supports the bid.

Also, USC’s women’s team wouldn’t be able to play at CLA during the NCAA Tournament. Women’s sites are awarded based on merit, and Dawn Staley’s program has earned the right to host in each of the past two seasons. Since the men’s and women’s tournaments begin on the same weekend, the women would have to play elsewhere if CLA is hosting a men’s regional.

USC has fully supported the bid for a men’s regional, even if it means the women have to give up a host site they earn.

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The following predetermined NCAA championship events were removed from North Carolina Monday due to the state’s HB2 law.

*Note: Merit-based postseason events, such as baseball and women’s basketball, will be allowed within the state.

2016 Division I women’s soccer championship (College Cup), Cary

2016 Division III men’s/women’s soccer championships, Greensboro

2017 Division I men’s basketball first/second rounds, Greensboro

2017 Division I women’s golf regional, Greenville

2017 Division III men’s/women’s tennis championships, Cary

2017 Division I women’s lacrosse championship, Cary

2017 Division II College World Series, Cary