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Bill mandating UNC, NC State football play annually, schedule in-state foes advances

On3 imageby:Dan Morrison06/04/24


A bill that would require the North Carolina Tar Heels and NC State Wolfpack to play each other annually, as well as other in-state and public FBS programs routinely in football has passed committee, per Brian Murphy.

House Bill 965 is titled UNC Intrastate Athletic Competition, and it passed committee very quickly, reportedly, in less than two minutes. There was no discussion on the topic before it advanced.

The bill was filed by Republican House members, including Reps. Jason Saine, Jake Johnson, Ray Pickett, and David Willis. In it, UNC and NC State would be required to play at least one of ECU, Charlotte, and Appalachian State annually. It would also require them to play the three schools at home and away every six years.

On top of that, the bill would require UNC and NC State to play one another annually in football each year.

The rivalry between UNC and NC State is a longstanding one. It goes back to 1894 and the Tar Heels hold the lead with an all-time record of 68-39-6 in their meetings.

“Sports tourism is vital to the economy of North Carolina, and intrastate collegiate athletics generates millions of dollars in economic impact to the State,” the bill states. “It is the priority of the General Assembly to encourage intrastate collegiate athletic rivalries in order to promote economic development.”

The bill is, likely, a nod to conference realignment that has already seen several traditional in-state rivalries come to an end as teams move from one conference to another. It comes at a time when the ACC, which both UNC and NC State are members of, is dealing with legal battles with multiple schools as they look for ways to potentially leave the conference for what they see as a better situation in the future.

UNC has played Appalachian State four times in its history, including in 2023. The Tar Heels have also played ECU 17 times, including in 2018. They’ve never played Charlotte.

NC State has also never played Charlotte before. However, they have 32 games against ECU, including as recently as 2022 under their belt. On top of that, the Wolfpack has six all-time games against Appalachian State, ranging from 1932 to 2006.

Representative Jason Saine is known for his support of Charlotte. He is also a senior chairman of the appropriations committee.

“We’re just making sure we get those games,” Saine said. “They can’t not play. There’s enough wiggle room in there as far as space and calendaring that we’ll get the maximum benefit without real injury to them. It’s what fans want to see and it’s a good way to do it.”

On top of the football games, UNC and NC State would also have to play ECU, Charlotte, and Appalachian State in both men’s and women’s basketball as well. It requires home and away games between the schools as well, which would rotate on an annual basis.

Notably, the bill sets aside $1 million to the Board of Governors to “inform eligible constituent institutions and members of the public about the intrastate athletic competition required” by the act.

If passed into law, the bill would become effective on July 1.