North Carolina awarded NCAA events af­ter LGBT law rolled back.

Awards fu­ture tour­na­ments to end ‘bath­room bill’ boy­cott

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY AARON BEARD

RALEIGH, N.C. | The NCAA has awarded coveted men’s bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment games and other events to North Carolina, ef­fec­tively end­ing a boy­cott that helped force the state to re­peal parts of a law that lim­ited pro­tec­tions for LGBT peo­ple.

The gov­ern­ing body an­nounced de­ci­sions Tues­day for events through 2022, two weeks af­ter the NCAA said it had “re­luc­tantly” agreed to con­sider North Carolina again for host­ing du­ties. It had stripped North Carolina of seven cham­pi­onship events for the past sports sea­son – in­clud­ing open­ing­week­end men’s bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment games – and said it could re­lo­cate more events if there wasn’t a change in the “bath­room bill.”

The list of events in­cluded men’s bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment open­ing-week­end games in Greens­boro in 2020 and Raleigh in 2021, as well as a women’s bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment re­gional in Greens­boro in 2019. In ad­di­tion, the Col­lege Cup Di­vi­sion I cham­pi­onship rounds for men’s soc­cer and women’s soc­cer will al­ter­nate years in Cary from 2018-21, and the Di­vi­sion I women’s field hockey cham­pi­onship will be held in Win­ston-Salem in 2019.

Demo­cratic Gov. Roy Cooper signed a com­pro­mise bill March 30 while say­ing it wasn’t a per­fect so­lu­tion. The com­pro­mise was reached days af­ter the NCAA said the state was down to its fi­nal days to get some­thing done about the law.

“I think it’s im­por­tant for our econ­omy, and it’s im­por­tant for our na­tional rep­u­ta­tion,” Cooper said Tues­day be­fore the NCAA announcement. “The NCAA also be­lieves North

Carolina has more work to do and we look for­ward to work­ing with them. I think for sure they’ll bring some of their cham­pi­onships here. I think they value North Carolina and want to be here and we’ll look for­ward to what they say.”

LGBT rights groups have said the com­pro­mise bill doesn’t go far enough, and crit­i­cized the NCAA’s de­ci­sion to re­turn to North Carolina.

“North Carolina’s new law does noth­ing to guar­an­tee that LGBT peo­ple will be pro­tected from dis­crim­i­na­tion,” said James Esseks, di­rec­tor of the ACLU’s LGBT and HIV Project. “When the NCAA orig­i­nally with­drew events from North Carolina, they did so be­cause they claimed to care about ‘fair­ness and in­clu­sion’ for col­lege ath­letes and fans. It’s a shame to see that those con­cerns have al­ready fallen by the way­side.”

NCAA Pres­i­dent Mark Emmert said at the Fi­nal Four that he was pleased the state had passed a new law de­spite “very dif­fi­cult” politics. But the NCAA ul­ti­mately of­fered a luke­warm en­dorse­ment of the com­pro­mise mea­sure days later, say­ing the new law met “min­i­mal” re­quire­ments to al­low NCAA back into con­sid­er­a­tion for fu­ture events.

It stated events al­ready awarded to North Carolina for the 2017-18 sports sea­son – in­clud­ing men’s bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment games in Char­lotte – would re­main in place.

The NCAA’s North Carolina ban for the 2016-17 sea­son didn’t af­fect teams that earn home-court ad­van­tage dur­ing the sea­son, such as the Duke women’s bas­ket­ball team host­ing tour­na­ment games in March.

The At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence also pulled 10 neu­tral-site events from the state last fall, in­clud­ing mov­ing the foot­ball cham­pi­onship game from Char­lotte to Or­lando, Florida. The con­fer­ence said af­ter the com­pro­mise was reached its upcoming events would re­main in place and the foot­ball ti­tle game would re­turn to Char­lotte for its con­trac­tual run there through 2019.

The NBA re­lo­cated this year’s All-Star Game from Char­lotte to New Orleans due to the law as well, though the league hasn’t com­mit­ted to bring­ing its an­nual show­case back.

The loss of men’s bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment games was par­tic­u­larly jar­ring in bas­ket­ball-crazy North Carolina, the site of more tour­na­ment games (251) than any other state.

North Carolina – which hosted the 1994 Fi­nal Four in Char­lotte – had hosted games in 11 of 13 years be­fore the NCAA stripped March games from Greens­boro. Those games were re­lo­cated to Greenville, South Carolina, which had been banned from host­ing events for years be­fore that was lifted fol­low­ing the re­moval of a Con­fed­er­ate flag from state capi­tol grounds in 2015.

South Carolina was also in­cluded on the list for men’s bas­ket­ball sites, with Columbia host­ing open­ing-week­end games in 2019 and Greenville host­ing in 2022.

Cooper had said it was clear that the NCAA had wanted a com­plete re­peal of House Bill 2, as did he. But the gov­er­nor has said the new law was the best com­pro­mise he could get given the Repub­li­cans’ veto-proof ma­jori­ties in the leg­is­la­ture, though it drew crit­i­cism from some LGBT rights groups that said it wasn’t good enough.

The re­place­ment bill elim­i­nated a re­quire­ment that trans­gen­der peo­ple use re­strooms cor­re­spond­ing to the sex on their birth cer­tifi­cates in many pub­lic build­ings. The new law says only state leg­is­la­tors – not lo­cal gov­ern­ments or school of­fi­cials – can make rules for pub­lic re­strooms.

The orig­i­nal bill also in­val­i­dated any lo­cal or­di­nances pro­tect­ing gay or trans­gen­der peo­ple from dis­crim­i­na­tion in the workplace or in pub­lic ac­com­mo­da­tions. The com­pro­mise pro­hibits lo­cal gov­ern­ments from en­act­ing any new such pro­tec­tions un­til De­cem­ber 2020.


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