NCAA will ‘reluctantly’ consider championship bids in NC following HB2 repeal


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The NCAA Board of Governors released a statement Tuesday morning regarding the organization’s position on the recently-passed repeal of House Bill 2 in North Carolina and how it relates to future event bids in the state.

The statement from the Board came less than 12 hours after the Tar Heels beat Gonzaga 71-65 in the NCAA Tournament National Championship game held in Phoenix.

NCAA officials said that House Bill 142, a compromise bill to repeal HB2 that was passed and signed into law last week, met “the minimal NCAA requirements,” but that “the board remains concerned that some may perceive North Carolina’s moratorium against affording opportunities for communities to extend basic civil rights as a signal that discriminatory behavior is permitted and acceptable, which is inconsistent with the NCAA Bylaws.”

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The statement said that the Board of Governors had hoped that the state would fully repeal HB2, but they did not lobby to change any specific part of the law.

LGBT advocates like Equality NC are critical of the NCAA’s decision.

“We had hoped that the NCAA would stand with the LGBT community. They got pushed by Roy Cooper instead and they succumbed to his political pressure,” said Chris Sgro with Equality NC.

The release stated that “a majority on the NCAA Board of Governors reluctantly voted to allow consideration of championship bids in North Carolina by our committees that are presently meeting.”

“We are glad the NCAA is coming back to North Carolina,” Gov. Roy Cooper said shortly after the NCAA sent out their statement. “They recognized progress in this legislation. They recognized that, even though it wasn’t everything that they wanted, it was enough for them to come back and join us in the fight to help to continue to improve our laws.”

Senate Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, and House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, released a joint statement regarding the NCAA’s decision, saying, “We are pleased with the NCAA’s decision and acknowledgment that our compromise legislation ‘restores the state to…a landscape similar to other jurisdictions presently hosting NCAA championships.'”

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You can read the NCAA Board of Governors’ full statement below:

In August of 2016, the NCAA Board of Governors instructed the relocation of NCAA championships scheduled in North Carolina during the 2016-17 academic year because of the cumulative impact HB2 had on local communities’ ability to ensure a safe, healthy, discrimination-free atmosphere for all those watching and participating in our events.

Last week, the elected officials of North Carolina enacted compromise legislation that repealed HB2 and replaced it with a new law, HB142, that addressed a number of the concerns that led to the relocation of the NCAA championships. As with most compromises, this new law is far from perfect.

The NCAA did not lobby for any specific change in the law. The Board of Governors, however, was hopeful that the state would fully repeal HB2 in order to allow the host communities to ensure a safe, healthy, discrimination-free atmosphere for the championship sites. While the new law meets the minimal NCAA requirements, the board remains concerned that some may perceive North Carolina’s moratorium against affording opportunities for communities to extend basic civil rights as a signal that discriminatory behavior is permitted and acceptable, which is inconsistent with the NCAA Bylaws.

However, we recognize the quality championships hosted by the people of North Carolina in years before HB2. And this new law restores the state to that legal landscape: a landscape similar to other jurisdictions presently hosting NCAA championships.

We are actively determining site selections, and this new law has minimally achieved a situation where we believe NCAA championships may be conducted in a nondiscriminatory environment. If we find that our expectations of a discrimination-free environment are not met, we will not hesitate to take necessary action at any time.

We have been assured by the state that this new law allows the NCAA to enact its inclusive policies by contract with communities, universities, arenas, hotels, and other service providers that are doing business with us, our students, other participants, and fans. Further, outside of bathroom facilities, the new law allows our campuses to maintain their own policies against discrimination, including protecting LGBTQ rights, and allows cities’ existing nondiscrimination ordinances, including LBGTQ protections, to remain effective.

In the end, a majority on the NCAA Board of Governors reluctantly voted to allow consideration of championship bids in North Carolina by our committees that are presently meeting. The NCAA championships previously awarded to North Carolina for 2017-18 will remain in the state. The board, however, directs that any site awarded a championship event in North Carolina or elsewhere be required to submit additional documentation demonstrating how student-athletes and fans will be protected from discrimination.”

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