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Intrastate college competition bill goes to appropriations next

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(The Center Square) – Less than five minutes were needed for committee clearance, which could ultimately impact who plays who in football and basketball for North Carolina’s largest universities.

The Committee on Education – Universities in the House of Representatives is sending House Bill 965 to the Appropriations Committee next, followed by The Rules, Calendar and Operations of the House.

While lawmakers say reaction from the universities could dictate if or when to withdraw, for now the bill is rumbling on the way to ensuring no matter what happens in collegiate realignment, there will be football and men’s and women’s basketball games between Carolina and N.C. State. Not only that, those schools will have games with UNC Charlotte, East Carolina and Appalachian State.

Carolina and N.C. State are in the ACC, one of four remaining power conferences impacted greatly by recent moves involving what was known as the Pac-12, the Big Ten, the Southeastern and the Big 12 conferences. The Pac-12 exits left it with just two members, and the Big Ten and SEC continue to be tied to speculation on whether ACC schools – including the Tar Heels and Wolfpack – will eventually be spread into their growing wealth.

The ACC was the last to get some of the Pac-12 teams, picking up Stanford and Cal. It also welcomes Southern Methodist for the 2024-25 year.

Litigation about exiting the ACC is ongoing and has been filed by the league, Florida State and Clemson.

Sports fans, of which the lawmakers certainly are, have already seen century-old rivalries halted by realignment, arguably few bigger than Texas and Texas A&M, or Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. The latter’s football game was known, quite simply, as Bedlam.

The legislation filed May 1 in the House of Representatives, with the majority of its sponsorship from the western side of the state, targets UNC System schools boasting 30,000 or more undergraduate and graduate students and playing in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

Lawmakers want those teams to schedule each other regardless of league affiliation, and they want them to play the smaller schools in the system. The proposed date of enactment is July 1, 2025.

The ACC’s Carolina and N.C. State, and the American Athletic’s UNC Charlotte, meet the 30,000 and football bowl division levels. East Carolina of the American is less than 3,000 away in enrollment. The bill’s language calls for at least one home or away game annually between Carolina and State, and those schools periodically play Charlotte, ECU and Appalachian State.

The bill also boosts the scheduling of the other UNC System schools that play athletics. The larger schools would play at least one home and away game against schools with low enrollments every six years.

Basketball nonconference games sometimes involve multi-year contracts or games set ahead of time but are mostly year-to-year. Football, however, is usually scheduled well in advance.

Carolina, in 2024, hosts Charlotte and N.C. Central; in 2025, visits Charlotte; and in 2028, hosts N.C. A&T.

N.C. State in 2024 plays Western Carolina at home; in 2025, has East Carolina at home and will go to Appalachian State; in 2026, hosts Appalachian State; in 2027, hosts N.C. A&T; in 2028, is at East Carolina; in 2030 hosts Charlotte; and in 2031 goes to Charlotte.

Charlotte, in addition to the Carolina and State games, in 2025 plays Appalachian in the NFL Panthers’ Bank of America Stadium; in 2026 and 2028, it goes to Appalachian; and in 2027, 2029 and 2030 hosts Appalachian.

East Carolina, in addition to the Carolina and State games, plays Charlotte as the American Athletic Conference dictates. The Pirates in 2024 and 2026 will host Appalachian, which hosted a game between the teams last September.

Rep. David Willis, R-Union, is the primary sponsor and joined in presenting the bill by Reps. Jake Johnson, R-Polk; Ray Pickett, R-Watauga; Jason Saine, R-Lincoln; Joe John, D-Wake; Donnie Loftis, R-Gaston; Jeffrey McNeely, R-Iredell; Frank Sossaman, R-Vance; and Bill Ward, R-Gates.

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