Tar Heels coach 'dumbfounded' after NCAA rejects plan for hurricane-relief charity game

With the Carolinas still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Florence, two of the region's Division I college basketball programs wanted to play an exhibition game, with the proceeds going toward hurricane relief efforts. But the NCAA, which oversees college athletics, quashed the plan.

Roy Williams, head basketball coach at the University of North Carolina, said he couldn't believe it when he learned the NCAA had denied a waiver to allow his school to play against the University of South Carolina, reports said Tuesday.

“I was dumbfounded when the waiver was not granted,” Williams told reporters in Chapel Hill, N.C., according to the State, of Columbia, S.C.

“When you see the scenes of people’s stuff out on the streets, you want to do something,” Williams added, according to the News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C. “And that’s sadly what we saw. We saw so many situations, people losing everything they have.”

The NCAA allows Division I programs to play fellow Division I programs in the preseason only if it’s a nonpublicized “secret” scrimmage, or if the game’s proceeds go to charity, according to the State. Teams can play a maximum of two such games or scrimmages per year, the report said.

But South Carolina already planned to host Augusta University in an exhibition game on Oct. 26, and will face Virginia Tech on Oct. 28 in a “closed scrimmage,” the State reported.

North Carolina, meanwhile, will host Mount Olive in an exhibition game on Nov. 2, and its “closed scrimmage” is at Villanova on Oct. 20, the paper reported.

Thus, both UNC and USC would presumably have to give up one of their already-scheduled games to make their hurricane-relief charity meeting possible.

But the NCAA said the waiver wouldn’t be accepted, Steve Kirschner, a UNC basketball spokesman, said, according to the News & Observer.

The NCAA’s Committee on Basketball Oversight decided in June that waivers would not be accepted for a third preseason game, the report said.

Williams said he doesn’t understand why the waiver was declined, the State reported.

“Some rule had been put in that they weren’t going to give waivers (because) we already had the other two games,” Williams said. “And, guys, if you guys 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. But that was not the intent.

“When you see the scenes of people’s stuff out on the street, you want to do something. And that’s sadly what we saw. We saw so many situations, people losing everything they have," he said. "And we had what I thought was one of the few good ideas I’ve ever had."