The National Collegiate Athletic Association has announced it is relocating seven championship events that had been awarded to North Carolina for the 2016-17 academic year. The organization's board of governors cited cumulative actions by the state curtailing civil-rights protections.
"NCAA championships and events must promote an inclusive atmosphere for all college athletes, coaches, administrators and fans. Current North Carolina state laws make it challenging to guarantee that host communities can help deliver on that commitment if NCAA events remained in the state," read a statement from the board.
"Fairness is about more than the opportunity to participate in college sports, or even compete for championships," said Mark Emmert, president of the NCAA. "We believe in providing a safe and respectful environment at our events and are committed to providing the best experience possible for college athletes, fans and everyone taking part in our championships."
Backlash from the state's Republican Party was swift, in the form of a statement from spokesperson Kami Mueller: "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."
Earlier this year, the NBA announced it was moving the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte. These decisions have been made following the North Carolina Legislature's passage in March of HB2, which curtails legal protections for the LGBT community.
The seven NCAA championship events that will be relocated are the 2016 Division I Women's Soccer Championship, College Cup, Dec. 2 and 4; the 2016 Division III Men's and Women's Soccer Championships, Dec. 2-3; the 2017 Division I Men's Basketball Championship, first and second rounds, March 17 and 19; the 2017 Division I Women's Golf championships, regional, May 8-10; the 2017 Division III Men's and Women's Tennis Championships, May 22-27; the 2017 Division I Women's Lacrosse Championship, May 26 and 28; and the 2017 Division II Baseball Championship, May 27-June 3.
The loss of the first and second rounds of the basketball tournament is a particular blow, according to the News & Observer in Durham, home of hoops powerhouse Duke University: "Instead of skipping North Carolina in the next bid cycle, the NCAA pulled events from the state immediately -- including the beloved first and second rounds of the men's basketball tournament in Greensboro in March," wrote Luke Decock for the newspaper.