"I called Frank to see if he would be interested in playing a game," Williams said. "So I called him and said, ‘No one has been hurt as badly as we have,' North Carolina and South Carolina with Florence, and we asked for a waiver to see if we could play."
But the unofficial request was denied. In the aftermath of Williams’ comments regarding the NCAA’s decision made at men's basketball media day on Oct. 9, there has been confusion as to the reason why.
In June, the Committee on Basketball Oversight declared that no waivers would be accepted for a third exhibition game. With the new legislature firmly in place, the UNC compliance staff reached out to the NCAA, but did not make a formal waiver request.
According to the UNC athletics department, the University had a choice to replace one of its two exhibition games with a charity game against South Carolina, but did not do so.
The first of the two exhibition games does not appear on the team’s official schedule, but it raised some eyebrows when it was announced on Oct. 8 by Inside Carolina.
Inside Carolina reported the Tar Heels would head north to battle defending national champion Villanova on Oct. 20 in a scrimmage. The date marks the first time the two teams have met since the 2016 National Championship, a game that lives on in infamy for devoted UNC fans.
The second game does appear on the schedule — a scrimmage against Mount Olive on Nov. 2. The last time the Tar Heels battled the small college in an exhibition was in 2004-2005 when Williams won his first National Championship.
"We had an exhibition game with a smaller school in our state that we’ve done for years," Williams said. "I think maybe my first year, we set all our exhibition games against teams in our own state so we could give them some money to help their program."
Just because the charity game was not approved does not mean Williams and his team did not aid relief efforts.
In front of a packed Smith Center for the team’s annual inaugural public practice, Late Night with Roy, the team made 117 baskets over four minutes and 15 seconds. With each shot made, $100 was donated toward relief efforts. Williams and his wife, Wanda, matched that amount of $11,700 as the team raised a grand total of $23,400.
Of the proceeds, 50 percent will go to the University’s Disaster Relief Fund, with the other half will go to the Hurricane Florence Student Emergency Fund, according to GoHeels.
Williams noted his chagrin in the aftermath of the devastation and his desire to help on Friday night in a statement to GoHeels.
“This is a shooting drill we do many times during the year, but it’s never had the impact on people’s lives like it has tonight,” Williams said. “I had a chance to see the devastation on the coast in person, and it was heartbreaking. This is a small way our players, staff, Wanda and I could help bring some relief to so many who are hurting. Even though it has been several weeks since the storm, I encourage everyone to please continue to remember those in need.”
It will take years before the Carolinas heal completely from the destruction left by Florence, but the donation made by Williams and his team help in bandaging up the torn-apart communities.
And for that reason, Williams should turn his frown upside down.
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