With a vicious winter storm bearing down on the state, the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association plans to make a decision Wednesday morning on whether it will go ahead with its state basketball championship tournament Thursday through Saturday in Asheville.
The decision should be simple: Wait out the storm rather than forcing teams and fans to drive into it.
That wicked winter snowstorm has its eyes set on the Carolinas Wednesday night. It will dump up to 9 inches in parts of the state. Asheville is expecting between 3 to 6 inches, a forecast similar to Charlotte. Rain is expected to start falling in the area late Wednesday afternoon and quickly change to snow. Already, many public school systems throughout the state, also hit by snow Tuesday morning, are closed Wednesday.
But with the storm approaching, the NCISAA has asked its schools to make plans to travel to Asheville during the day Wednesday, ahead of the storm. Snow is expected to hit Asheville around 6 p.m. on Wednesday and end around 5 a.m. on Thursday.
NCISAA officials hope that, with the teams in town, crews can clear parking areas at playing venues so games can start Thursday morning.
The NCISAA’s approach is wrong, and potentially dangerous.
Temperatures in Asheville will remain cold for a few days, so roads will be hazardous and slick. School venues may be clear, but streets in Asheville may not be. Most schools are riding up in buses, which aren’t the easiest things to manuver in tough conditions. Fans, some of them elderly, will have to travel to and around Asheville.
Some schools coming to the tournament are from Raleigh, Greensboro and Fayetteville, areas hit harder by Tuesday’s surprise snow storm than Charlotte. Those groups will have to drive longer distances, through potentially bad conditions.
Wake, Durham, Orange, Johnston, Chatham, Harnett, Franklin and Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools were closed as icy roads produced accidents and other trouble for commuters. UNC-Chapel Hill, not far away, delayed the start of classes until 10 a.m.
Predictions for snow in the Triangle area called for as much as 9 inches Wednesday.
In Fayetteville, up to 8 inches of snow is expected, and Cumberland County public schools were closed Wednesday after the area was hit with more than 2 inches of snow Tuesday. Main roads in the area were good but officials were still concerned about secondary streets and black ice.
You can pick just about any area of the state and find stories like this.
The NCISAA should wait and see. Delay the start of the tournament until at least Friday, and if necessary, move it.
By waiting out the storm instead of inviting people to travel into it, the NCISAA would be erring on the side of safety. And caution. And concern.
Wertz: 704-358-5133; Twitter: @langstonwertzjr