by Sarah J.F. Braley | October 01, 2016
(Pictured) Tip off: The early rounds of March Madness are moving.
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The National Collegiate Athletic Association is relocating seven championship events that had been awarded to North Carolina for the 2016-2017 academic year. The organization's board of governors cited cumulative actions by the state curtailing civil-rights protections.

Earlier this year, the National Basketball Association announced that it was relocating the 2017 All-Star Game away from the city of Charlotte. These decisions were made following the North Carolina Legislature's passage in March of HB2, which curtails legal protections for the LGBT community.

"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," read a statement from the board.

The Atlantic Coast Conference followed the NCAA's lead, taking all neutral-site championships out of the state for the 2016-2017 school year. The ACC football championship, for example, had been scheduled for Dec. 3 in Charlotte; an alternate site had yet to be announced as of press time.

"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."

Backlash from the state's Republican Party came 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."

The events that will be relocated include 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; and the 2017 Division I Women's Golf championships, regional, May 8-10.

Sports columnist Luke Decock, writing for the News & Observer in Durham, home of hoops powerhouse Duke University, noted with undisguised disappointment, "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."