UNC celebrates championship, new season at Late Night with Roy
Posted 8:00 a.m. Friday
Updated 2:50 a.m. Saturday
Chapel Hill, N.C. — The annual kickoff of the basketball season for Tar Heel fans and players took on added meaning Friday for many, who felt vindicated by a decision earlier in the day by the NCAA that cleared the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill athletic department of wrong-doing in the long-running academic scandal.
"We are going to celebrate two things tonight," said Gary Bluford. "Celebrate the banner and those sanctions!"
UNC Tar Heels, 2017 NCAA men's basketball champions Former Carolina star point guard and TNT NBA analyst Kenny Smith welcomed the faithful to the Dean Dome as master of ceremonies and heard the roar of the crowd as UNC hung another national championship banner.
He was joined by Joel Berry and Theo Pinson, two players from that 2017 national championship team.
The first 5,000 fans in the door got their own miniature version of that banner.
After years under NCAA scrutiny, fans were ready to cheer and look ahead.
"We are so glad that cloud is lifted. That's been a dark cloud for a while," said Bluford. "It has, obviously, it hurt the program and the school in every way, including recruiting."
Bluford and thousands of others got to meet the latest recruiting class, watch a scrimmage and some flashy dance moves by players and coaches.
Fan David Grady described Late Night as "A lot of action, a lot of laughter and a different side of the team you don't normally see on a regular basis."