The organizers of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, one of the most prestigious and well-known men's college basketball tournaments, have announced the 2020 edition will be played at the Harrah's Cherokee Center Asheville due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NCAA earlier this week announced this fall's college basketball season will start the day before Thanksgiving. Because of safety and travel considerations, the Maui Invitational is being moved to the mainland from where it is typically played at the Lahaina Civic Center on the island of Maui. Several other tournaments are also shifting their locations this fall, as the NCAA and schools seek to set up 'bubble environments' similar to what the NBA and NHL have done to allow play without fans in attendance and other measures to limit the spread of the Coronavirus.
“We couldn’t be more excited and deeply honored to bring the Maui Jim Maui Invitational here to Asheville,” said Demp Bradford, president of the Asheville Buncombe Regional Sports Commission in a statement. “Asheville’s ability to host this top-level sporting event is a testament to state and local partnerships built on a track record of welcoming and supporting national, and international, competitive events to Buncombe County.” Teams, staff, officials, and members of the media will be placed in a bubble environment that will limit their movement and interaction outside the venue.
The schools in this year's tournament field include Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas, and UNLV. The Tar Heels have won the Maui Invitational four times, most recently in 2016, a season they went on to win their 6th national championship. Only Duke has won the Maui Invitational more times (5). Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams is a graduate of T.C. Roberson High School in Asheville, and his first coaching job was at Charles D. Owen High School in Black Mountain.