For the second time this season, North Carolina has had a basketball game postponed from Saturday to Sunday. The first time, last month, was due to a snow and ice storm that moved through central North Carolina. The reason this time, though, is likely a first: an emergency water crisis.
UNC and Notre Dame were scheduled to play on Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Smith Center but an Orange County water crisis, which forced UNC to cancel afternoon classes on Friday, prompted officials to move the game to Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Greensboro Coliseum.
The water crisis began on Friday morning, when the Orange Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA) announced that a “major water main” broke. That incident followed the temporarily closure of the Jones Ferry Water Treatment Plant, a water treatment facility.
Not long after OWASA directed Orange County customers not to use water “until further notice,” UNC canceled all Friday classes after 1 p.m. A basketball press conference with coach Roy Williams, scheduled for 2 p.m., was also canceled.
In canceling classes, UNC cited a shortage of water and fire safety concerns. The university ended its announcement to the campus community with a plea: “Please DO NOT drink or use water until further notice.”
Later on Friday afternoon, OWASA on its website issued “Do Not Drink Order” posted to its website.
“Due to low pressure in the OWASA service area we are not sure if the water is safe for consumption,” the statement read. “Until testing has been completed, the Orange County Health Department has issued a Do Not Drink order. Boiling water is not recommended. Only bottled water is recommended.”
The water crisis sent UNC athletic department officials scrambling, given the prospect of hosting events on campus on Saturday appeared to be increasingly untenable. Both the UNC wrestling and women's lacrosse teams moved Saturday competitions from Chapel Hill. The basketball team was planning to spend Friday night in Durham, according to a team spokesman.
By 5:30 Friday afternoon, officials had found a home at the Greensboro Coliseum for the UNC-Notre Dame game. The original tickets for entry at the Smith Center will be accepted on Sunday. Those with lower-level tickets at the Smith Center will be offered access to the lower level of the Greensboro Coliseum.
Those with upper-level tickets at the Smith Center will be offered access to the upper level of the Coliseum. Student tickets will also be honored but parking passes will not, and the parking fee at the Greensboro Coliseum will be $10.
The game was originally scheduled to be broadcast on Saturday on ESPN, and now will be televised on ESPN News. This is the second time in four weeks that UNC has had a game postponed by a day.
Snow and ice forced its game against N.C. State, originally scheduled for Jan. 7, to the next day. The Tar Heels wasted little time that Sunday afternoon in building an insurmountable lead, and they won by 51 points – its largest margin of victory in any ACC game.
The game on Sunday will be UNC’s first in the regular season at the Greensboro Coliseum since a 79-56 victory against UNC-Greensboro on Dec. 16, 2014. The last time UNC played at the Coliseum was in the 2015 ACC tournament championship game, when it suffered a 90-82 defeat against Notre Dame.
The Tar Heels are 115-30 at the Greensboro Coliseum. They have won more games there than any other off-campus venue.