NCAA responds to bill which seeks IRS complaint over HB2 boycotts
RALEIGH, NC (WBTV) - The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has responded after North Carolina lawmakers filed a bill accusing the organization of "excessive lobbying" in the wake of House Bill 2.
The Athletic Associations Accountability Act, now labeled as House Bill 328 (HB328), was filed Monday evening by Republican Representative Mark Brody, from Union County.
The bill, if passed, would instruct leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives to file a tax-exempt organization complaint with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) against both the NCAA and the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).
DOCUMENT: Click here to read House Bill 328
The complaint would allege that the organizations have "engaged in excessive lobbying activities."
"Specifically, the NCAA and the ACC have exceeded the scope of their respective charters by using economic retaliation against the State of North Carolina for the purpose of forcing the General Assembly to adopt social legislation that is not connected to the core mission of either the NCAA or the ACC," the proposed bill states.
According to the IRS website, nonprofit groups can't have tax-exempt status "if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation." The groups "may engage in some lobbying, but too much lobbying activity risks loss of tax-exempt status."
"The NCAA has not lobbied North Carolina lawmakers. All conversations that we've had with representatives in the state have been designed to provide information about our championships process and timeline, not take positions on legislation," NCAA officials said in a statement Tuesday.
"When the Board of Governors moved championships from North Carolina last year, it was a clear response to state laws that local communities admitted would make it difficult to assure that our events could be held in an environment that was safe, healthy, and free from discrimination for all those watching and participating in our events," the statement continued. "Our constitution and values commit us to respecting the dignity of every person. Our decisions reflect those values and our principles have not changed."
In September, the NCAA pulled seven championship events from North Carolina over issues stemming from House Bill 2 (HB2). This included the first and second rounds of the men's basketball tournament that were slated to be held in Greensboro.
The organization said championships and events must "promote an inclusive atmosphere for all college athletes, coaches, administrators and fans," adding that state law made it "challenging to guarantee that host communities can help deliver on that commitment."
Two days later, the ACC announced it was pulling all of its "neutral site championships for the 2016-17 academic year" as well.
A source with the ACC spoke on background to WBTV saying the organization "does not lobby, does not have a lobbyist and is not part of the legislative process."
Sunday, HB328's primary sponsor, Rep. Mark Brody, posted on Facebook that he thinks the NCAA and the ACC "stepped out of bounds" when it pulled out of the state in response to HB2.
"The taxpayers of North Carolina should not be required to support the NCAA's and the ACC's lobbying efforts against duly enacted State law through the organizations' continued status as 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations," Brody's proposed bill states. "The General Assembly will not relinquish its legislative authority over the internal affairs of the State to either the NCAA or the ACC."
RELATED ARTICLE: Local lawmaker takes aim at NCAA, ACC over HB2 boycotts
HB328 also seeks more transparency from the university leaders about school employees who participate in intercollegiate athletic association boards, committees, commissions, task forces, or groups. It would require the employee to disclose their votes unless it involves a legal settlement or personnel matter.
Brody said the NCAA and ACC made a "politically miscalculated decision when they decided to move championship games from North Carolina," adding that "we will not be intimidated by organizations that are attempting to hold our state hostage."
Within 24 hours of the bill's filing, Rep. Brody had support from 13 additional Republican lawmakers, including representatives Larry G. Pittman from Cabarrus County, Justin P. Burr from Stanly County and Larry W. Potts from Davidson County.
The bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee of the North Carolina General Assembly Tuesday. The committee meets on Wednesday afternoon but the bill likely won't be discussed.
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