The NCAA has announced it is moving championship and tournament games out of North Carolina due to the state's anti-LGBT HB2 law. The events to be moved include men's and women's soccer matches this December and men's basketball tournament games slated for next March.
"In its decision Monday, the Board of Governors emphasized that NCAA championships and events must promote an inclusive atmosphere for all college athletes, coaches, administrators and fans," the NCAA said in a statement. "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, the board said."
The NCAA had previously said it would be taking these issues into consideration for the selection of future sites, but the association hinted strongly that it would not be moving previously awarded championship events. This is a stark reversal that will have huge repercussions for the state and its cities relying on revenue generated by these popular events. The move follows the lead of the NBA, which announced last month it would move its annual All-Star game out of the state in 2017.
"Fairness is about more than the opportunity to participate in college sports, or even compete for championships," Mark Emmert, NCAA president, said in a statement. "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."
The NCAA listed four major factors that went into the Board of Governors' decision:
- North Carolina laws invalidate any local law that treats sexual orientation as a protected class or has a purpose to prevent discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender individuals.
- North Carolina has the only statewide law that makes it unlawful to use a restroom different from the gender on one's birth certificate, regardless of gender identity.
- North Carolina law provides legal protections for government officials to refuse services to the LGBT community.
- Five states plus numerous cities prohibit travel to North Carolina for public employees and representatives of public institutions, which could include student-athletes and campus athletics staff. These states are New York, Minnesota, Washington, Vermont and Connecticut.