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NCAA Stands Firm on HB 2 Stance, Warns North Carolina

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Copyright 2017 News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)
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News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)

 

"Last year, the NCAA Board of Governors relocated NCAA championships scheduled in North Carolina because of the cumulative impact HB 2 had on local communities' ability to assure a safe, healthy, discrimination-free atmosphere for all those watching and participating in our events.

"Absent any change in the law, our position remains the same regarding hosting current or future events in the state.

"As the state knows, next week our various sports committees will begin making championships site selections for 2018-2022 based upon bids received from across the country. Once the sites are selected by the committee, those decisions are final and an announcement of all sites will be made on April 18."

GREENSBORO - On the one-year anniversary of House Bill 2 becoming the law of the land in North Carolina, the NCAA sent the state a note on Twitter.

It wasn't a happy little greeting card.

It was a reminder that the state stands to lose its chance to host any neutral-site NCAA championships from now through the 2021-22 school year.

A reminder that came one week after first- and second-round games of the NCAA men's basketball tournament were played in Greenville, S.C., instead of Greensboro, after the NCAA moved its games out of North Carolina because of HB 2.

"Absent any change in the law, our position remains the same regarding hosting current or future events in the state," the NCAA statement read. "As the state knows, next week our various sports committees will begin making championships site selections for 2018-2022 based upon bids received from across the country. Once the sites are selected by the committee, those decisions are final and an announcement of all sites will be made on April 18."

That's a little more than three weeks away.

But there's a chance time has already run out. Kim Strable, the president of the Greensboro Sports Commission, said the NCAA is almost certainly "doing the last of its due diligence" in the bid process, double-checking details such as whether venues and hotels remain available at the sites with winning bids.

"We're definitely in the 11th hour," Strable said. "And I think we have been for some time. Frankly, I'm a little surprised they haven't pulled the trigger already. They clearly have people watching what's happening in North Carolina ... and there's just a trickle of discussion going on. There doesn't seem to be any sense of urgency."

In September 2016, the NCAA pulled seven championship events out of North Carolina in response to HB 2, a law the NCAA views as discriminating against LGBT people.

The law requires transgender people to use restrooms and locker rooms in public buildings that correspond to the gender on their birth certificates. It also prevents local governments from enacting their own anti-discrimination rules that include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Hours after the NCAA statement Thursday, N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore, a Republican, told The News & Observer of Raleigh that HB 2 was discussed at length during two days of GOP caucus meetings.

"We're taking whatever time is necessary," Moore told the newspaper. "We're not going to move forward until a majority of the caucus is prepared to do something."

Moore said he's looking for "pretty good assurances" that changes to HB 2 would end boycotts.

"A lot of companies and other entities that initially signed onto these bans ... are having a little bit of buyer's remorse," Moore told the newspaper, "and are themselves looking for a way to get out of this mess."

The NCAA likely isn't one of them. The organization withheld its neutral-site championships from South Carolina for more than 10 years while the Confederate battle flag flew on the Statehouse grounds. The flag came down in 2015.

"Those of us in sports, we're not crying wolf," Strable said. "We know for certain this will happen. The NCAA is not playing. It's not an idle threat. And I can't imagine a scenario where they would walk something back.

"People are naive about that. This is a big country with a lot of great venues. The NCAA is not hurting for places to plant their championships," he said. "Yes, they like being here. We know it and they know it. ... But they've got a lot of other options."

If the boycott continues, Greensboro has plenty to lose. The city has submitted bids for a number of future college championships.

The NCAA accepts site proposals for its Division I, II and III championships in four-year cycles. Bids, which included a nondiscrimination questionnaire, were submitted during the summer of 2016.

Greensboro bid on 53 NCAA championship events "that amount to $118 million in economic impact," said Henri Fourrier, the president of the Greensboro Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Results of those bids will be announced April 18. But the decisions will likely be made in the next few days.

Contact Jeff Mills at (336) 373-7024, and follow @JeffMillsNR on Twitter.

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March 24, 2017
 
 
 

 

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