Boise State becoming NCAA tourney regular. Will the city host March Madness games again?

The Boise State men’s basketball team has reached the NCAA Tournament two years in a row, but it’s been awhile since March Madness came to the City of Trees.

Boise last hosted first- and second-round NCAA Tournament games in 2018. So when will the tournament be back?

The NCAA has released its host sites through 2026, and Boise is not on that list. The closest site will be Salt Lake City in 2024 at the University of Utah’s Vivint Smart Home Arena. Spokane also is a host site next year for the first two rounds.

“Bids for the most recently announced host sites were due in 2020, which predates much of our current athletics leadership team,” Boise State Athletic Director Jeramiah Dickey told the Idaho Statesman. “Regarding bids to host future tournaments, we are excited about the opportunities ahead and will discuss next steps for what is best for our community, institution and department when the time comes.”

Boise once was a regular host for NCAA Tournament games. The city has been a site nine times for the first two rounds, including seven times between 1989 and 2009. But after that there was a long gap to 2018, and now another lull has hit.

It is possible the NCAA will not even consider Boise as a host until Idaho HB 500, which bans women and girls who are transgender from participating in female sports, is resolved in court.

Gov. Brad Little signed the bill into law in 2020, but a federal judge blocked it from going into effect in August 2020. It is being challenged in the Hecox v. Little case that’s in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The NCAA previously issued a statement supporting the participation of transgender athletes in sports, saying that its championships would be held only in locations that are “safe, healthy and free of discrimination.” The NCAA’s policy on transgender participation, which was revised in January of 2022, now calls for a sport-by-sport approach.

“We are steadfast in our support of transgender student-athletes and the fostering of fairness across college sports,” said John DeGioia, chair of the board and Georgetown president, in a news release.

Boise State, led by coach Leon Rice, is coming off back-to-back NCAA tourney appearances for the first time since 1993-94. The Broncos, who have gone 51-18 over the past two seasons, have lost their first-round games in both 2022 and this year’s March Madness.

Boise State also made the NCAA Tournament under Rice in 2013 and 2015.