CLEMSON — It’s official: South Carolina is free to welcome the NCAA back within its state borders.
The trickle-down effect of Friday’s removal of the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse grounds extends to local sports. The NCAA officially ended its 14-year moratorium on pre-determined regional and postseason competition in the state of South Carolina.
“The NCAA strongly supports today’s removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina State House grounds. This step sends an important message of respect for and dignity of every person,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement Friday.
“As a national association, the NCAA opposes this symbol of racism, and since 2001 we have demonstrated our opposition by not playing pre- selected championships in states where the flag was flown prominently. The removal of the Confederate flag now means that South Carolina can bid to host future NCAA championships.”
Mississippi remains the only state banned from hosting pre-determined championships, according to USA Today.
The ACC released the following statement from commissioner John Swofford on Friday: “I personally applaud the decision to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina State Capitol. With this change, bids to host future ACC Championships will be accepted from interested South Carolina cities, with no additional stipulations placed on them because of the Confederate flag.”
The ACC has not held its baseball tournament in South Carolina since 2001 and has rotated the tournament between Durham and Greensboro since 2009. An agreement to play the ACC baseball tournament in Myrtle Beach from 2011-13 was reversed after the NAACP protested.
Charleston, Greenville and Myrtle Beach could be future points of interest for the ACC baseball tournament after its current contract with Durham expires in the spring of 2018.
“The RiverDogs would be interested in exploring all possibilities that involve the NCAA and potential use of Joseph P. Riley Jr. Ball Park,” Charleston RiverDogs general manager Dave Echols told The Post and Courier on Friday. “The city of Charleston is a fantastic destination and potential anchor site for championships of all sport. The RiverDogs are not intimately aware of the current agreements already in place for the ACC, but the track record of success with the Southern Conference (tournament) for over 20 years certainly speaks for itself. We welcome the opportunity to speak with the NCAA and the ACC in the coming months.”
The ACC men’s basketball tournament has scheduled host sites through 2020. In terms of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, Greenville last hosted first and second rounds of March Madness in 2002, when Duke and Alabama were the top seeds.
“Every arena would want to host an NCAA tournament at whatever level,” Bon Secours Wellness Arena general manager Beth Paul told The Greenville News. “It is prestigious, and it is a great showcase to the industry that our venue is capable of this kind of event. It’s exposure from a pure branding perspective, as well as for the community.”
South Carolina athletic director and former baseball coach Ray Tanner tweeted Thursday, “Today, the University of South Carolina and city of Columbia will be able to host pre-determined NCAA Championships. We look forward to showcasing our great facilities, staff and hospitality to those who visit.”
Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich chimed in Thursday on Twitter, “Looking forward to submitting bids for pre-determined NCAA champ sites, given the actions by Gov Haley and the SC legislature #Clemson!”