I recently made a trip to Lynchburg in an attempt to determine whether Lynchburg College was the Virginia Christian UNC played in its first basketball game. I had a very nice visit, and while I was there I talked with the Director of Athletics, the Library Director and his Assistant, and a member of the Sports Information staff.
There is no question but that Lynchburg College was, in fact, the Virginia Christian we played in our first game. The Librarian retrieved from their yearbook collection the yearbook for the academic year 1910-1911, and it showed that the VC team did play UNC twice that year. UNC won the first game in Chapel Hill and VC won the second "away". I made an effort to find out where the "away" game was played but that is going to require more work. We know that Lynchburg College built Memorial Gymnasium in 1917 but no one knew where they played prior to that date. I plan to contact the Lynchburg News Leader to see if they can shed some light on the matter. One interesting fact discovered during the visit. VC had 6 players on their team from a student body of 31, yes 31. UNC had 9 players, and I don't know the UNC enrollment at that time. The name Virginia Christian was changed to Lynchburg College in 1919, and one of the reasons for the change was that another institution in Lynchburg had a similar name that was creating confusion in the minds of the public. The name of that institution was Lynchburg Commercial Institute.
The campus was beautiful, sort of like you would want for filming a movie for a small school. The old resort building that is pictured on their web site is gone, but it's still a very attractive campus with about 2000 students.
The gymnasium is being renovated, and I jokingly suggested to the Athletics Director that maybe we could arrange for Carolina to come and help them celebrate completion of the renovations by playing them a game. He said good-naturedly, "that would be a good idea." In a way, it's sad that things like this can't be done anymore. We get all wrapped up in who is playing at what level, money guarantees, home and home, etc. Did you notice how much excitement Carolina seemed to bring to Buffalo earlier this season and the comments made by the Buffalo officials? I'm sure not too many big time teams are willing to come to Buffalo, and most people would probably be surprised to learn that the University of Buffalo is about the same size student wise as Carolina. The crowd for our game was 400 over capacity for Alumni Hall and I'm sure there was a lot of excitement at half time, even if they did finally lose by 24.
So I think we can put this chapter of UNC sports to rest. I still want to make a few more inquiries to find out where the games in Lynchburg were played but I think that is something that intrigues me only and would not have widespread appeal to others.