College Sports

Greenville to host 2017 SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament

The South Carolina Gamecocks hold women's SEC basketball tournament champion trophy this past March.
The South Carolina Gamecocks hold women's SEC basketball tournament champion trophy this past March. Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

What’s more exciting than winning a third straight SEC tournament?

Winning a third straight SEC tournament in front of your home crowd.

The worst-kept secret in SEC women’s basketball will become official on Monday – Greenville’s Bon Secours Wellness Arena has been chosen for the 2017 SEC women’s basketball tournament. “The Well” has scheduled a press conference for “an exciting announcement” on Monday and a source close to the situation confirmed it to The State on Wednesday.

The SEC wouldn’t confirm that Greenville has been selected but did say that Greenville was one of the sites considered. “I can confirm we have had talks with Greenville,” SEC Director of Communications Tammy Wilson said.

The rumors have floated for months. Since the NCAA boycott of South Carolina because of the Confederate flag ended last summer, the state has been actively lobbying for postseason events to return. (The women’s NCAA regionals, such as the ones USC has hosted the past two seasons, are merit-based and not pre-chosen). Most pre-chosen events had already been farmed out to sites through 2019, but the SEC women’s tournament needed a location for 2017.

After being in North Little Rock, Ark., and Jacksonville, Fla., the past two years and scheduled for Nashville in 2018, “The Well” seemed like a natural site for the tournament. Two hours from Columbia, Knoxville and Athens, three SEC schools are in driving distance and the city has an airport with flights to and from Atlanta.

And it certainly won’t hurt attendance that USC will bid for its third straight SEC tournament title, something only Tennessee (1998-00, 2010-12) has accomplished in league history. “The Well” seats 16,000 and was the home for Clemson men’s basketball this past season.

Greenville last hosted the SEC women’s tournament in 2005, when “The Well” was still known as the Bi-Lo Center. The tournament has bounced around to smaller arenas (Chattanooga, Tenn., Duluth, Ga.) since and has taken turns in Nashville when the SEC men’s tournament takes one-year breaks from its near-permanent home at Bridgestone Arena.