The NCAA Will Keep Events Out Of North Carolina Unless HB2 Is Repealed

Keeping the law on the books could cost the state five years of NCAA championships.

The NCAA will not hold any of its college sports championship events in North Carolina for at least the next five years if the state’s legislature fails to repeal an anti-transgender law it passed last year, the NCAA said Thursday.

Last year, the NCAA moved seven championship events ― including men’s NCAA Tournament games ― out of North Carolina after the passage of HB2, a law that prohibited localities from enacting laws to protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity and required that students at North Carolina schools use bathrooms matching their gender assignment at birth.

Next week, the NCAA will begin selecting the hosts of championship events that will be held between 2018 and 2022. North Carolina cities have submitted bids for many of those events. But if the state doesn’t repeal HB2 soon, it won’t win hosting rights for any of them.

“Absent any change in the law, our position remains the same regarding hosting current or future events in the state,” the NCAA said in a statement Thursday, citing the need to “assure a safe, healthy, discrimination free atmosphere for all those watching and participating in our events.”

Lawmakers filed legislation to repeal HB2 in the state Senate earlier this week. The repeal bill passed its first procedural hurdle Wednesday. A previous attempt to repeal HB2 after the election of Gov. Roy Cooper (D) ― who ran on his opposition to the law ― failed after a compromise fell apart at the last minute.

Cooper renewed calls for the law’s repeal on Thursday, the one-year anniversary of HB2’s passage. His statement referenced sporting events the state had lost; in addition to NCAA events, the Atlantic Coast Conference relocated its championships from the state, and the NBA moved its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte to New Orleans.

“Today marks a dark anniversary for our state. For one year now, HB 2 has harmed our reputation and cost our economy thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars,” Cooper said in a statement. “I have offered numerous compromises and remain open to any deal that will bring jobs and sports back to North Carolina and begin to repair our reputation.”

“North Carolinians have spoken clearly that HB 2 does not reflect our values and must be repealed,” he continued. “Legislative Republicans have been all too happy to use their supermajorities to pass damaging partisan laws. It’s time for them to step up, meet halfway, and repeal HB 2.”

North Carolina’s two most prominent college basketball coaches renewed their previous criticisms of the law during the NCAA Tournament last week, after Duke lost its second-round game to South Carolina. The game would have been played in Greensboro, but the NCAA moved it to Greenville, South Carolina, because of HB2.

“It would be nice if our state got as smart and also would host not just basketball tournaments but concerts and other NCAA events. But maybe we’ll get there in the next century,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the loss. “Look, it’s a stupid thing. That’s my political statement. If I was president or governor I’d get rid of it.”

“It shouldn’t just be about athletic events,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said this week. “It should be about what’s right and wrong. And what we have now is wrong.”