“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. 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.” – NCAA President Mark Emmert
That statement came July 10, the day South Carolina removed the controversial flag from its Capitol in response to the fatal shootings at a prayer meeting in Charleston. Less than a month later, 10 representatives of state’s tourism industry met with about 30 members of the NCAA’s championship division across all sports at NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis.
South Carolina was ready to show its joy at being a NCAA event option again, and its day may come as soon as 2016 for lower-level competition. For Division I sports, a more realistic target is 2019. The last NCAA pre-selected site event in the Palmetto site was a Division I men’s basketball regional in Greenville in 2002, before the ban began. Mississippi is still subject to a similar ban.
“They are ready for us,” says Auvis Cole, president of the South Carolina Sports Alliance, of the NCAA. “We’re waiting for them to put out the bids.”