Big South makes decision on conference tournament bid

FARMVILLE – The good news? The Big South Conference made its decision early on who will host the 2024 men’s and women’s basketball championships. The bad news is the host won’t be Longwood University. 

By a vote on Wednesday, Aug. 23, High Point University was awarded the conference tournament. The Big South Conference Council of Chief Executive Officers said they’ll hold a press conference Tuesday, Aug. 29 with High Point to make it official. 

“We are absolutely elated to partner with High Point University in hosting the 2024 Hercules Tires Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships,” said Big South Commissioner Sherika A. Montgomery.  “I am confident our student-athletes, coaches, fans, administrators, and community partners will have a tremendous March Madness experience.  We look forward to working with Dr. Nido Qubein, Dan Hauser and the High Point community in the coming months to create a supreme event and memorable experience for our student-athletes.” 

For 2022 and 2023, Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina played host to the event, but the city-owned operation simply said the contract would not be extended. As a result, the Big South put out a call, opening up for bids from its nine member schools. 

What drove the Big South decision?

As for what attracted Big South votes to High Point, nothing was officially said, but several details were included in the conference statement. 

The Qubein Center at High Point has ranked in the top three nationally the last two years for facilities up to a 5,000 seat capacity. The statement also pointed out the Center has the “second-largest videoboard in the state of North Carolina” and a “Quince Imaging court projection system, Daktronic ribbon boards, courtside suite and club level suites, with full chairback seating throughout the arena.”  

In an earlier interview with The Herald, Montgomery had said there was a checklist, a number of details about the building and town. Is the building big enough? Can the area handle the amount of people coming in? 

“Can (the building) provide things like (space for) media operations, an adequate number of dressing rooms, all the things that come with running a basketball tournament,” Montgomery said. “In addition to that, what makes a bid attractive is making sure there’s community (support), a community with adequate lodging. Can they host all nine of our teams on the men’s and women’s side?” 

Mark Simpson, the Big South’s public relations director, pointed out that there will be a large number of people involved, so schools bidding to host needed to make sure they could handle the influx.  

“We’re going to have 18 total teams (between the two tournaments), so it’s a little bit of an undertaking by the host,” Simpson said. “We want to make sure the institutions that are bidding can put on a premier event such as this.” 

Longwood’s bid

Longwood University had cited the fact they have experience in hosting big events, pointing to the 2016 Vice Presidential debate. Also, space wouldn’t be an issue, as they will open the new Joan Perry Brock Center this Friday, Aug. 25.

The Town of Farmville and Prince Edward County also promised support. The town offered $50,000, with the county signing off on a $15,000 donation of their own. To be clear, no money exchanged hands here, as both the town and county would have only given those funds if the bid had been successful.

Longwood officials congratulated High Point and said they look forward to competing at the Quebin Center. They also thanked local partners for their help.

“We’d like to thank the town of Farmville and Prince Edward County for their generous commitments to our competitive bid,” said Longwood spokesman Matt McWilliams. “If there is another opportunity to host the Big South basketball tournaments, Longwood would of course consider applying again, and would be excited to welcome conference officials, teams, and fans to stay and dine in Farmville, the way we have when we have hosted the Big South softball tournament and other conference events. Regardless, the regional teamwork demonstrated in putting this bid together was a good sign for future events.”