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NCAA moves 7 championship games in protest of North Carolina law

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On Monday, Sept. 13, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announced that it would be relocating all seven championship events from North Carolina during the 2016-2017 academic year because of the state’s controversial ‘bathroom law’. The organization said that the law did not align with their “commitment to fairness and inclusion” and that the decision was made because NCAA championships and events “must promote an inclusive atmosphere for all college athletes, coaches, administrators and fans.”

The ‘bathroom bill’ is commonly known as HB2. It was first passed on March 23 by Governor Pat McCrory. The act applied to students at North Carolina state schools and overturned an LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance that had been passed by the city of Charlotte, N.C. The law is often described as the most anti-LGBT legislation in the U.S. but was described as a ‘common sense’ legislation by proponents.

The NCAA’s decision comes shortly after the National Basketball Association also announced it would be moving February’s All-Star Game from North Carolina in protest against the same law.

The NCAA cited “four specific factors” that make the dynamic in North Carolina different from the dynamic in other states. This included the fact that North Carolina law disallows local municipalities from passing anti-discrimination laws, prohibits the use of a restroom different from the gender on someone’s birth certificate regardless of their gender identity and allows officials to refuse services to LGBT people.

The organization also brought up the point that five states and several cities have also passed laws that does not permit public employees and representatives of public institutions from traveling to North Carolina, which the NCAA stated could thus be interpreted to include student-athletes and campus athletics staff.

In response to the move Kami Mueller, a spokeswoman for North Carolina’s GOP released a scathing response the same day stating, “This is so absurd it’s almost comical. I genuinely look forward to the NCAA merging all men’s and women’s teams together as singular, unified, unisex teams. Under the NCAA’s logic, colleges should make cheerleaders and football players share bathrooms, showers and hotel rooms. This decision is an assault to female athletes across the nation…I wish the NCAA was this concerned about the women who were raped at Baylor. Perhaps the NCAA should stop with their political peacocking and instead focus their energies on making sure on nation’s collegiate athletes are safe, both on and off the field.”

Additionally, McCrory responded saying that he strongly encouraged “all public and private institutions to both respect and allow our nation’s judicial system to proceed without economic threats or political retaliation” and called the NCAA “a multi-billion dollar, tax-exempt monopoly” that “failed to show this respect at the expense of our student athletes and hard-working men and women.”

Nonetheless, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) also had to make the decision of whether or not they would follow both the NBA’s and NCAA’s lead. The decision was trickier for the ACC which is headquartered in Greensboro, N.C., and has hosted most of the ACC men’s basketball tournament in the state. The past 23 ACC women’s tournaments have also been played in North Carolina.

The ACC had announced on Monday that they were planning to meet on Tuesday and Wednesday and its commissioner John Swofford assured that “HB2 was previously scheduled to be thoroughly discussed” but that “it would be premature to make any decisions or announcements regarding ACC championships until our membership is able to discuss.” Still, Swofford affirmed that “the league’s longstanding commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusion will continue to be a central theme to [their] discussions.”

Sure enough, on Wednesday, the ACC council of presidents announced that the ACC would be taking its biggest competions out of their home state saying that the organization was committed to values of “equality, diversity, inclusion and non-discrimination” and that they believe “North Carolina House Bill 2 is inconsistent with [those] values, and as a result…will relocate all neutral site championships for the 2016-17 academic year.”

The seven NCAA events that will be relocated are the 2016 Division I women’s soccer championship, 2016 Division III men’s and women’s soccer championships, 2017 Division I men’s basketball championship (first and second rounds), 2017 Division I women’s golf championships (regional), 2017 Division III men’s and women’s tennis championships, 2017 Division I women’s lacrosse championship and 2017 Division II baseball championship.

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