CIAA is ready for tip off in Charlotte despite House Bill 2 - | WBTV Charlotte

CIAA is ready for tip off in Charlotte despite House Bill 2

(Dedrick Russell | WBTV) (Dedrick Russell | WBTV)

The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) says it is ready to host the 72nd anniversary of men's basketball and 43rd anniversary of women's basketball tournaments in Charlotte, despite sports tournaments pulling out of North Carolina over House Bill 2.

CIAA Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams says having the controversial bill still on the books in North Carolina was a struggle for the tournament, with some fans saying they won't be coming this year because of HB2.

"A lot of pressure you are talking about something that's not just local and state - this is a national event," McWilliams said.

The CIAA college presidents decided to stay. The commissioner says with HB2 still the law of the land, the tournament had to remain in North Carolina.

"We have a responsibility not just to CIAA, but as a community to have this dialogue to effect change positively for the people that we serve," she said.

CIAA serves about 3,000 student athletes. This year the tournament will host town hall meetings to address and embrace ethnic and gender equality. Eight of the 12 CIAA schools are based in North Carolina, and the CIAA wants to support them.

"For the conference office or headquarters to leave this state would mean that they are leaving behind some of the most vulnerable members of the community," CIAA Diversity and Inclusion Consultant Nevin Caple said.  "And so it's a real opportunity not only to stay but to leverage the platform to address these issues and be part of that leadership group."

Last year, the CIAA pumped $57.4 million into Charlotte's local economy. City leaders are happy the CIAA decided to stay.

"I know there are hard decisions and we appreciate the fact that they stuck with us through the process," CRVA CEO Tim Murray said. "This is the best place for the CIAA tournament. It is part of our DNA and we're excited they are a part of our family."

The commissioner said moving the tournament to another state is not an easy thing to do.

"We can leave North Carolina and go to another state," the commissioner said. "There's no guarantee HB2 won't be in place in that state - am I right or am I wrong."

The tournament is scheduled to stay in Charlotte until 2020. No word yet if that will change.  In the meantime, the commissioner says life would be less complicated if HB2 went away.

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