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


HB 2 requires transgender people to use public restrooms and locker rooms 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.

Besides the college events pulled by the NCAA and ACC, the NBA also took its 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte and moved it to New Orleans.

GREENSBORO - As the ACC prepares for next week's men's basketball tournament in Brooklyn, plans are being made for future conference championships to take place outside of North Carolina.

ACC Commissioner John Swofford said Friday that the stalled efforts to repeal North Carolina's House Bill 2 have the league waiting and hoping for a change but that time constraints have caused the conference to begin making plans for moving more championship events out of the state.

"We haven't made definitive plans," Swofford told the News & Record, "but we've laid some groundwork for it if we do have to move. We'd be remiss if we didn't."

The ACC pulled all 10 of its neutral-site league championships scheduled for North Carolina in 2016 and 2017, following the NCAA's lead of removing its national tournaments from the state in response to HB 2.

Greensboro was scheduled to host the first two rounds of the NCAA men's basketball tournament this month. Those games were moved to Greenville, S.C.

The ACC women's basketball tournament, held in Greensboro for the past 17 years, is being played this week in Conway, S.C.

"The decisions we've made were specifically for 2016-17 and not beyond that," Swofford said.

He said that decisions regarding future championship sites would be made by school presidents but that "nothing has changed" from the league's current stand.

Timing could work against North Carolina, both for NCAA events and even for ACC championships already scheduled to return to the state, including the men's ACC basketball tournaments in Charlotte in 2019 and Greensboro in 2020.

"That's not that far off when you're booking arenas," Swofford said. "We can't wait too long."

The timetable for the NCAA is even more immediate.

The next round of bids for NCAA championships is being reviewed, and the announcement is expected April 18 for the championship sites for 2018-19 through 2021-22. Because of the logistics involved, decisions will get made in the weeks before the official announcement.

Kim Strable, the president of the Greensboro Sports Commission, said he expects a decision by the NCAA about North Carolina possibly as early as next week.

"We think we're looking at mid-March if they're going to pull the North Carolina sites," Strable said. "But it could be even sooner."

The NCAA delayed its announcement from December in hopes that North Carolina legislators and a new governor, Democrat Roy Cooper, could repeal the law signed by then-Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican.

"The NCAA really doesn't want to do this," Strable said. "They love North Carolina. They know we do a good job. They've been gracious about this whole thing, but they've put themselves out there and took a stand, and there's no way to really walk back from that."

The ACC could be in a similar situation.

The NCAA board of governors is chaired by Georgia Tech President G.P. "Bud" Peterson. If the NCAA committees make the decision to move on without North Carolina, it seems unlikely that the ACC presidents would then go against Peterson.

Swofford said any decision the ACC makes would be "in the presidents' hands."

That would include the return of the ACC men's basketball tournament to Charlotte in 2019 and to Greensboro in 2020.

"Right now, our hopes are to be back in both places," Swofford said. "There's certainly a desire from a league perspective to have the championships we've awarded to North Carolina."

Time is working against the state now, Strable said.

"I'm an optimist," he said. "But it's hard to be optimistic."

Contact Ed Hardin at (336) 373-7069, and follow @Ed_Hardin on Twitter.

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March 4, 2017


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