NCAA to relocate championships from NC for 2016-17

Published: Sep. 12, 2016 at 11:22 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 13, 2016 at 7:41 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The National College Association of Athletes (NCAA) announced Monday it would be pulling all championship events from North Carolina over issues surrounding House Bill 2 (HB2).

"Based on the NCAA's commitment to fairness and inclusion, the Association will relocate all seven previously awarded championship events from North Carolina during the 2016-17 academic year," a release from the NCAA stated. "The NCAA Board of Governors made this decision because of the cumulative actions taken by the state concerning civil rights protections."

The release goes on to read, "In its decision Monday, the Board of Governors emphasized that NCAA championships and events must promote an inclusive atmosphere for all college athletes, coaches, administrators and fans.cCurrent North Carolina state laws make it challenging to guarantee that host communities can help deliver on that commitment if NCAA events remained in the state, the board said."

HB2 requires individuals to use the bathroom corresponding to the gender listed on their birth certificate in government buildings, schools and universities, and initially took away the ability of employees to sue their employers in state court for discrimination or wrongful termination, among other things.

Months later, the legislature voted only to change a portion of HB2 that stripped workers of the right to sue their employers for wrongful termination.

The bill was passed in a one-day special session in late March and was signed by Governor Pat McCrory later that night.

It came as a response to a non-discrimination ordinance passed in February by the Charlotte City Council. The ordinance broadly defined how businesses should treat gay, lesbian and transgender customers. The debate, as in other cities, focused on bathrooms.

A section of the NCAA's release states:

The board stressed that the dynamic in North Carolina is different from that of other states because of at least four specific factors:

The events being relocated include:

  • 2016 Division I Women’s Soccer Championship, College Cup in Cary
  • 2016 Division III Men’s and Women’s Soccer Championships in Greensboro
  • 2017 Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, first/second rounds in Greensboro
  • 2017 Division I Women’s Golf Championships, regional in Greenville
  • 2017 Division III Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships in Cary
  • 2017 Division I Women’s Lacrosse Championship in Cary
  • 2017 Division II Baseball Championship in Cary

A spokesman for Attorney General Roy Cooper, the Democratic candidate for North Carolina Governor, released a statement about the NCAA's decision to move tournaments.

"It seems that almost every day, we learn of a new consequence of HB 2. Hosting NCAA championship events has long been a point of pride for North Carolina. These tournaments pump money into our economy and give our communities and fans a chance to showcase our incredible tradition of college sports," said spokesman Ford Porter. "Now, our ability to host these events at the highest level has been eliminated because of Governor McCrory and HB 2. Enough - We need to repeal this law and get our state back on track."

Tuesday afternoon, more than 20 hours after the NCAA announce its decision, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory released a statement saying the NCAA failed to respect the judicial process.

"The issue of redefining gender and basic norms of privacy will be resolved in the near future in the United States court system for not only North Carolina, but the entire nation," McCrory said Tuesday afternoon. "I strongly encourage all public and private institutions to both respect and allow our nation's judicial system to proceed without economic threats or political retaliation toward the 22 states that are currently challenging government overreach. Sadly, the NCAA, a multi-billion dollar, tax-exempt monopoly, failed to show this respect at the expense of our student athletes and hard-working men and women."

Dallas Woodhouse, the Executive Director for the North Carolina Republican Party (NCGOP), said the move was "so absurd it's almost comical."

"Under the NCAA's logic, colleges should end all women's sports and merge them with the men's teams, should make cheerleaders and football players share bathrooms, showers and hotel rooms," Woodhouse continued. "This decision without logic clearly puts women's sports and athletic scholarships for women at risk. If you can't have a women's rest room how do you have a women's team?"

NCGOP spokesperson Kami Mueller added to Woodhouse's  statement, saying "I wish the NCAA was this concerned about the women who were raped at Baylor. Perhaps the NCAA should stop with their political peacocking— and instead focus their energies on making sure our nation's collegiate athletes are safe, both on and off the field."

On the other side of the aisle, Democrats said moving the tournaments from North Carolina would be a 'disappointment' for basketball fans.

"Add this to the thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars Pat McCrory's discrimination bill have cost North Carolina," said North Carolina Democratic Party spokesman Dave Miranda. "Fortunately, voters will soon have a chance to undo the damage McCrory and Republicans in the General Assembly have done and put our state back on track."

The NCAA said it will "determine the new locations for these championships soon."

EqualityNC and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) sent out a joint statement Monday night, saying the NCAA sent "a clear message to North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory and state lawmakers that it will not tolerate hateful laws targeting student athletes, fans, and employees."

"Every day that HB2 remains on the books, countless people across North Carolina are at risk of real harm," HRC President Chad Griffin continued. "NCAA President Mark Emmert has shown tremendous leadership by taking a bold stand for equality in the face of discrimination. It's long past time state lawmakers repealed this vile law, and if they don't, the majority of voters opposed to HB2 will ensure they pay the price in November."

In late July, the NCAA asked cities hoping to be the host of future championships to specifically outline how they will protect participants and spectators from discrimination.

Bidding cities were required to complete a questionnaire by mid-August detailing any local anti-discrimination laws, provisions for refusal of services and other facility-specific information.

Currently awarded host sites were supposed to have a separate deadline to submit the same information, but the deadline would be determined later, officials said.

Just 24 hours before the NCAA's request, the National Basketball Association announced it was moving the 2017 NBA All-Star Game from Charlotte over House Bill 2. It was later announced the game would be hosted in New Orleans.

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