The state of North Carolina lost concerts, a conference football championship game, the ACC women’s basketball tournament, an NBA All-Star Game, NCAA tournament games and untold dollars due to HB2, the state’s so-called “bathroom bill.”
Members of the North Carolina state House of Representatives introduced a bill this week that would call on the state’s public universities to withdraw from their conferences should those leagues enact any sort of boycott against the state.
That means, were the bill to pass, if the ACC were to formally decree its championships were not to be held in the state of North Carolina, the University of North Carolina and NC State would be, bound by law, required “to immediately provide written notice to the conference that the constituent institution intends to withdraw from the conference no later than when the assignment of its media rights expire, unless the conference immediately ends the boycott.”
Effectively, the Tar Heels and Wolfpack would be forced to announce its departure as soon as the ACC’s TV deal is up.
Obviously, the potential ramifications of such a bill would be great to some large universities. Private schools, such as Duke, would not be subject to such a law.
Given the money, logistics and politics involved, it would seem unlikely that this bill would be able to make it to law, but it underscores how impactful sports have been in the state’s handling of HB2 and all its subsequent issues. It’s also a pretty strong signal that sports – specifically college sports – will be a part of this conversation for as long as it goes on in North Carolina and likely anywhere else in the country.
Looking Forward: Which programs are set to step backwards as we head into 2016-17?
The NBA Draft’s Early Entry Deadline has come and gone. Just about every elite recruit has decided where they will be playing their college ball next season. The coaching carousel, which ended up spinning a bit faster than initially expected, has come to a close for all of the major programs.
In other words, by now, we have a pretty good feel for what college basketball is going to look like during the 2016-17 season. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some programs on the decline heading into next season.
Wichita State: It’s hard to see the Shockers take too much of a tumble given how good a coach Gregg Marshall is and their superiority to the rest of the Missouri Valley Conference, but the graduations of Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker mean the end of an era. Those two were the constants of a Final Four team, then a 35-0 squad, followed by a Sweet 16 and finishing last March in the second round. There’s still talent in Wichita and they are still going to be the heavyweights of the Valley, but the dominance and national prestige that came with VanVleet and Baker may have also left with them.
UNLV: Things haven’t exactly been at a highwater mark in Las Vegas in awhile, but the Running Rebels appear to continue to sink. First, they fired coach Dave Rice in the middle of the season, which is never received well in coaching circles, exactly the place you need to go to, you know, hire another coach. The Rick Pitino pipedream never materialized, and then Mick Cronin couldn’t pull the trigger despite giving life in the desert a serious look. That left UNLV with Little Rock’s first-year coach Chris Beard, until an ugly debate regent debate to approve his contract preempted an exit to Texas Tech just a week after taking the job. New head coach Marvin Menzies was hired with just two scholarship players left in the program. All of that messiness is a terrible sign for the current health of a once-mighty program.
Iowa State: The news for the Cyclones this spring has been almost universally positive, starting with point guard Monte’ Morris deciding to not even test the NBA draft process and return for a senior season in which he’ll be the Cyclones’ focal point. ISU also will be getting Naz Mitrou-Long back after the sharpshooter was granted a medical hardship waiver. But the reality remains that the Cyclones lost one of the best players in program history in Georges Niang and have been enjoying the most successful run in program history. Some sort of slide is likely — and has been expected — as a result. But coach Steve Prohm and ISU may have enough talent to return to the NCAA tournament for a school-record sixth time and forestall any setback.
North Carolina State: It really looked like Mark Gottfried was going to get things rolling in a big way following the 2014-15 season in which the Wolfpack went 22-14, had a good core returning and recruiting booming. But Trevor Lacey turned pro (only to go undrafted), Kyle Washington transferred and NC State stumbled to a 16-17 record last season. Now, Cat Barber is leaving to go pro and Abdul-Malik Abu may do the same or follow the Martin twins into the transfer, and suddenly the forecast in Raleigh isn’t so sunny even with Dennis Smith Jr. in the fold.
Pittsburgh: The Panthers traded a coach who won two Big East titles, went to the Sweet 16 twice, the Elite Eight once and only missed the NCAA tournament twice in 13 years for a guy that Vanderbilt was pushing out the door. Not great. Even if things had gotten stale for Pitt fans with Jamie Dixon, the results he achieved are hard to argue. Few believe that Kevin Stallings is the answer to jumpstart the program back to where Dixon had it during the first years of his tenure, especially as the ACC continues to be a monster to navigate.
Kansas State: The Bruce Weber era in Manhattan started out with a bang, as he tied for a Big 12 title in his first year taking over for Frank Martin, but it’s been backsliding since, capped with a 17-16 (5-13 Big 12) campaign this past season. He couldn’t make it work with the most talented player (Marcus Foster) he’s had there, and there hasn’t exactly been a line of high-level recruits making their way to Manhattan. And if that wasn’t bad enough, KSU fans had to watch Oklahoma State hire former Wildcat assistant Brad Underwood while their administration gave Weber a stay of execution.
Ohio State: This is probably the trickiest inclusion, as Thad Matta’s track record would suggest that last year’s NIT appearance was merely a slip on the path to a return to the top of the Big Ten. The trouble, though, is that seeing four members of a heralded five-man 2015 recruiting class all decide to transfer is a major red flag. The Buckeyes do welcome another strong class to Columbus this fall, headlined by Derek Funderburk, but there are some visible cracks in the facade.
N.C. State secures commitment from four-star 2015 wing
Former West Virginia guard Terry Henderson took the first of multiple visits, spending time at Maryland.
Henderson told Jeff Ermann of InsideMarylandSports.com that it was “a great visit”. He spent most of his weekend with Terrapins leading scorer Dez Wells. Both are from Raleigh.
Henderson intends on visiting N.C. State, UCLA and Wake Forest. In late May, Cincinnati, Richmond and Rutgers were also in the mix when the 6-foot-4 guard cut his list of suitors.
Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon has a heralded incoming class. Despite losing a handful of players to transfer, Turgeon was able to land a commitment from former Georgia Tech forward Robert Carter Jr. late last week. He appears to be making a strong push to use the last available scholarship on Henderson as he enters an important fourth year in College Park.
This past season, he was third on West Virginia in scoring at 11.7 points and 2.9 rebounds per game. Henderson became the second Mountaineer guard to transfer out of the program, joining fellow sophomore Eron Harris.
NCAA transfer rules would force Henderson to sit out the 2014-2015 season. He would have two years of eligibility remaining.
The 2014 season was one filled with turmoil for Butler, and at the outset, the offseason appeared just as fraught. Rene Castro transferred during the year, and was followed by Nolan Berry and Devontae Morgan, but coach Brandon Miller’s summer recruiting duties just became a bit lighter: Tyler Lewis, a sophomore guard from North Carolina State, has decided to transfer to Butler.
Lewis is the first former McDonald’s All-America to suit up for Butler, and while he will have to sit out next season, his addition ticks off an immediate need for the Bulldogs — point guard.
Alex Barlow has one year of eligibility remaining, and while Kellen Dunham can run point, the guard is most ideally suited off the ball, a move that is guaranteed with Lewis in the fold. There was a thought that Lewis and Cat Barber, a freshman at NC State, would co-exist in the same backcourt, but it was clear towards the end of the 2014 season that Barber would run the team going forward, so despite Lewis’ 42.9 percent assist rate (which ranked within Ken Pomeroy’s top 50), the sophomore needed to find another program with minutes at the one.
In 2013, for the first time in seven seasons, Xavier failed to make the NCAA tournament. This year, in a new conference Chris Mack’s Musketeers got one of the last four bids, playing NC State in the First Four on Tuesday night.
“To put it into perspective, seven days ago I got a knock on my door from a neighbor,” Mack told reporters earlier this week. “He said my wife was in an auto accident. It was an eighth of a mile from my house. I got to the scene. The car went to the other side of the double-yellow, hit my wife head-on. A drunk driver. Blew a .25 with my kids in the car.”
Mack’s wife broke two bones in her left arm, while his daughters had minor injuries, according to WCPO. A post on Facebook updated their conditions and his family seems to be in good spirits about the scary ordeal.
“I’m as excited as it gets to be in the NCAA tournament,” Mack added. And, ahhh, whew … that was really, really hard.”
His Musketeers drew NC State, with ACC Player of the Year T.J. Warren in the play in game. The winner will play No. 5 seed Saint Louis in the Midwest Region. Tip is scheduled for 9:10 p.m.