Earlier this month, the NCAA decided to relocate its championship games from North Carolina because of the House Bill 2 law that critics say discriminates against the LGBT community. After the announcement of the move, several cities have been trying to get the NCAA to let them host some tournament games. However, Columbia, South Carolina will not be one of the venues for the tournament in 2017 because the city does not have enough hotel rooms available to accommodate the guests that will be arriving for the tournament. Despite not being able to host any tournament games next year, college basketball predictions have South Carolina as a sleeper team this year.
On Wednesday, the University of South Carolina and the Columbia Regional Sports Council announced that they won’t submit a bid to the NCAA to host the men’s basketball tournament in 2017, citing the unavailability of hotels for the March 17-19 event.
With South Carolina out of the running, the NCAA will still try to find a city and school in the East Coast to host some tournament games. Since the first two rounds of the tournament are regional, the NCAA needs to find a central city in the East Coast capable of hosting the games on short notice.
According to reports, the games could still be held in North Carolina as it has been for years, if the governor of the state repeals the H2 Bill. Since finding a host city for the tournament is time sensitive, the Bill will have to be repealed quickly for the city to regain the games.
While there is still a chance to return the tournament to North Carolina, it is very unlikely because the governor has said on several occasions that he isn’t going to repeal the law.
South Carolina had been hoping to host the tournament because the NCAA’s moratorium on hosting championship events in the state was lifted last year after the removal of the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds.
If the state had enough hotel rooms to accommodate tournament guests, they likely would have been allowed to host the event, which would have been the first in Columbia since it was last held there in 1970.
For the state of South Carolina, it would have been the first time the NCAA tournament was held in the state since 2002, when Greenville hosted the early rounds before the NCAA ban went into effect.
Despite the disappointment of not being able to host the tournament in 2017, the state of South Carolina and USC have submitted separate bids to host the first and second rounds of the tournament in 2019 and 2022, which should give them enough time to fix the accommodation issue if the NCAA approves their bids.
The University of South Carolina has already issued a press release that hotels in the area have been reserved for the tournament dates should the city of Columbia be selected as a host.
Ray Tanner, the school’s athletic director, said the short time period before the 2017 tournament made it difficult for the city to secure available hotels to have the tournament there. He added that the city and school look forward to having the tournament there in the future.