CONWAY, S.C. -- Coastal Carolina will be making a bit of history well before its season even begins this year.
The Chanticleers announced Tuesday that they will play three exhibition games in Cuba in August against the Cuban National Team while claiming to be the first Division I team to play in the isolated Caribbean island nation since the countries announced plans to begin normalizing relations in December.
Coastal Carolina will be the first Division I men's basketball team to take a foreign tour to Cuba. pic.twitter.com/CuP9QRicXY— CCU Chanticleers (@GoCCUsports) June 23, 2015
The Chants will depart for Cuba on Aug. 6 and return Aug. 14, playing three games at Havana's Sport City on Aug. 8, 9 and 11.
NCAA rules allow programs to take a foreign tour once every four academic years and Coastal Carolina's trip is being managed by Sport Tours International, the university's news release said.
"Coastal Carolina's three games against the Cuban National Team in Havana will be the first time a Division I team has ever played in Cuba," Sport Tours International president Lee Frederick said in a statement released by the school. "That the administration and basketball program accepted the invitation from the Cuban Federation is a testament to the program's increasing prestige on the national stage. It will be the trip of a lifetime for the student-athletes, and the seven days they spend on the island will change them forever."
The Chants, who reached the NCAA tournament each of the past two seasons, are also scheduled to conduct clinics for players and coaches in Havana and Matanzas and participate in various community service programs during their stay in Cuba.
"This foreign tour to Cuba is a great honor for our program as the United States begins to open its relationship with Cuba," coach Cliff Ellis said in a statement. "For us to be the first team to travel to Cuba is a testament to our success over the past several years. We will rely on NCAA tournament experiences to play competitive basketball against the Cuban's top-notch national team."
U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced in December an agreement to begin normalizing relations between the countries, including the lifting of some U.S. travel restrictions and the reopening of an embassy in Havana which closed in 1961 after the breakdown of diplomatic relations between the the United States and the communist nation.
This article was written by Ryan Young from The Sun News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.