If the women’s basketball team’s schedule goes according to plan, the Gamecocks will open up the postseason in the NCAA Women's Tournament across the state line in North Carolina.
With a strong season has progressed, athletics director Ray Tanner and the team were presented with a predicament for the postseason as the women’s basketball team might host the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
The problem was that Colonial Life Arena would not have been available due to the venue alredy being booked to host the first two rounds of the NCAA Men’s Tournament.
However, the issue has been resolved.
Tanner announced on Thursday before the Gamecocks’ game against the Georgia Bulldogs that should South Carolina earn the chance to host the first two rounds of the women’s tournament, the games will be played at Dale F. Halton Arena on UNC-Charlotte's campus.
“I’d like to thank Mike Hill and UNC-Charlotte and their corporation for allowing us an opportunity and a venue, should we qualify, to host up in Charlotte with Coach Staley’s team,” Tanner said. “Kim Whitestone and the staff up there have been phenomenal in making this work for us.”
While Dale F. Halton Arena is outside the state, Tanner said it is the best viable option for South Carolina given the scheduling conflict with Colonial Life Arena.
Tanner said that the school looked at other venues within South Carolina, but the arena in Charlotte was the best option available given the seating capacity and availability of the choices.
While the school was able to receive the waiver, Tanner was unaware if any team had ever been in this situation, raising some concern during the process.
“There was concern,” Tanner said. “I didn’t know of a precedent that had been set, I didn't know of another situation where a women’s team had gone to another venue. It might have happened, but I just didn’t have that in front of me.”
Tanner also found that it was important that the venue and the area was accessible for the South Carolina fan base, especially given the fact that the women’s basketball games have had thousands of fans attend their games.
“It’s extremely important. If we were averaging 500 fans a game, it’s not such a priority, but it is a priority for us and our women’s basketball program,” Tanner said. “We think that we can travel well to Charlotte. It's not that far away, it’s a great city. There’s a lot of things to do there and I think it’s a great opportunity for women’s basketball.”
While specific dates for South Carolina’s games have yet to be announced, the first two rounds will take place from March 22 to March 24. The school will announce ticket information at a later date.