NCAA fails to show it has a heart

The NCAA should be ashamed and embarrassed. Tar Heel and Gamecock fans should be as bewildered as UNC men’s basketball coach Roy Williams is.

Williams recently said he thought he had a good idea. Shortly after North Carolina and South Carolina were hit by Hurricane Florence, Williams reached out to South Carolina basketball coach Frank Martin to see if he would be interested in having a preseason charity game with the two teams.

All the money, Williams said, would go to relief efforts and families who were displaced.

The idea caught fire.

Charlotte Hornets majority owner Michael Jordan, who played at UNC from 1981 to 1984, agreed to allow the two teams to play at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte. It seemed like a done deal.

But not so fast.

Schools are allowed to have two preseason games per season, including scrimmages. UNC holds one preseason game each year against an in-state team as a way to help that program financially. That game this season will be against Mt. Olive on Nov. 2. The Tar Heels also hold one secret scrimmage.

Despite that, UNC contacted the NCAA to apply for a waiver to play a third game, the one against South Carolina, but the NCAA said the waiver wouldn’t be accepted.

The decision “dumbfounded” Williams.

“… if you can convince me how that was going to help North Carolina’s basketball team or South Carolina’s basketball team over somebody else, then I’ll listen to it,” Williams said. “But that was not the intent.”

A game of the caliber like the one Williams has suggested would be a tremendous draw under any circumstances. Add to it the fact that many areas in both North Carolina and South Carolina are still reeling from the devastation brought by Hurricane Florence, and such a game would raise thousands of dollars to be put toward relief efforts.

The NCAA has long made decisions that have raised the eyebrows of athletic directors, coaches, players and fans over the years. Many of those decisions seems to be rife of logic — but few of those decisions have ever seemed heartless, as this one does.

The waiver request wasn’t about gaining an advantage. It wasn’t about getting an extra game for players. It wasn’t about anything except to bring two hurting states together for a common cause, and raise money to assist those in need after disaster — the second one in two years, by the way.

The request for this fundraising game is hardly a blip on the radar of all the NCAA has to monitor and deal with on a regular basis. We get that. But the good will and real help a game like North Carolina versus South Carolina could bring to a pair of fan bases — not to mention the grassroots relief it could realize — should have given the NCAA an easy decision.

Instead, the NCAA chose to tarnish its reputation once again — this time with the label of heartless.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“You are free to make whatever choice you want, but you are not free from the consequences of that choice.” (Unknown)