NCAA, ACC will relocate events out of North Carolina
The NCAA has announced the relocation of seven previously awarded championship events – including NCAA tournament games in Greensboro – from the state of North Carolina during the 2016-17 academic year as a result of the state’s House Bill 2 that discriminates against members of the LGBT community.
The NBA moved its All-Star game in Charlotte for the same reasons in July, and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski called the law “embarrassing” in an interview with USA TODAY Sports.
The NCAA cited “state laws that limit civil rights protections” and emphasized that its championship events must promote an “inclusive atmosphere for all college athletes, coaches, administrators and fans.”
“Fairness is about more than the opportunity to participate in college sports, or even compete for championships,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement. “We believe in providing a safe and respectful environment at our events and are committed to providing the best experience possible for college athletes, fans and everyone taking part in our championships.”
Cyd Zeigler, LGBT activist and co-founder of Outsports, said the move is a big step in the right direction but still felt there was more work to be done on the NCAA’s behalf.
“I’m surprised and encouraged by the NCAA’s announcement,” Zeigler said. “They have previously fallen back on the idea that the national office has limited power and bureaucratic hurdles to affect change like this. Now that they’ve taken this step, they need to further protect student-athletes and coaches and ban all members with specific anti-LGBT policies. Removing events from North Carolina is nice, but the association continues to have members that discriminate against LGBT people. What they do with those members in the next year will tell us how serious they are, or if this was just a P.R. move.”
The seven events that will be relocated are:
2016 Division I Women’s Soccer Championship, College Cup (Cary), Dec. 2 and 4.
2016 Division III Men’s and Women’s Soccer Championships (Greensboro), Dec. 2 and 3.
2017 Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, first/second rounds (Greensboro), March 17 and 19.
2017 Division I Women’s Golf Championships, regional (Greenville), May 8-10.
2017 Division III Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships (Cary), May 22-27.
2017 Division I Women’s Lacrosse Championship (Cary), May 26 and 28.
2017 Division II Baseball Championship (Cary), May 27-June 3.
The Atlantic Coast Conference has followed the NCAA’s lead and is removing all its athletic championships from North Carolina over a state law limiting protections for LGBT people.
The ACC Council of Presidents last week to relocate the league’s championships until North Carolina repeals the law. The decision includes 10 neutral-site championships this academic year, which means relocating the ACC football title game that was scheduled to be played in Charlotte in December.
No announcement was made on where the championship events will be held.
“The decision to move the neutral site championships out of North Carolina while HB2 remains the law was not an easy one,” said Clemson President James P. Clements, chairman of the league’s council. “But it is consistent with the shared values of inclusion and non-discrimination at all our institutions.”
On Monday, the NCAA said it was relocating seven of its championships scheduled to be played in the state, including the men’s basketball first- and second-round matchups scheduled for next March in Greensboro.
ACC Commissioner John Swofford said after the NCAA’s decision that his league would review its next steps.
The law requires transgender people to use restrooms at schools and government buildings corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates. It also excludes gender identity and sexual orientation from local and statewide antidiscrimination protections. HB2 was signed into law earlier this year by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, who has defended it as a commonsense safety and security measure.
Clements said the leaders had an open, honest dialogue that took in all sides of the issue.
“There are a lot of parts to the discussion, how the community is affected,” the Clemson president said. “I’m really happy with how everybody came together.”
Swofford said the presidents’ choice was made on principle.
“I think it was the right decision. A difficult one in ways, but an easy one in ways considering the principles involved,” he said. “That’s where our presidents laid their bed so to speak, and I think we landed in the right place.”
Swofford said identifying replacement venues is in the early stages, but that he hopes to get locations lined up as quickly as possible.
Finding a football stadium as ACC-friendly as Charlotte might be difficult. The championship game has been played at Bank of America Stadium for the past six seasons with an average attendance of 69,641. In the previous two seasons the game was held at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., and averaged 49,412 spectators.
Football is not the only sport affected. The ACC planned to hold 14 of its 21 championship events in North Carolina this academic year, with the majority of those at neutral, off-campus, sites, and the others either on the campuses or the home venues of Wake Forest (field hockey), Duke (fencing), North Carolina (softball) and N.C. State (wrestling, cross country).
The ACC decision came the same day the NCAA reopened the bidding process for those championships it pulled from the state. The NCAA said bids for those events are due Sept. 27 and hopes to decide the new sites by Oct. 7.
Swofford said the ACC will consider the issue again in the spring if nothing changed in North Carolina’s law. Such prohibitions can last for quite some time: The NCAA’s ban on South Carolina hosting neutral-site championships for flying the Confederate flag on Statehouse grounds lasted from 2001 until the flag came down last summer.