The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics will move its 2016 cross-country national championship out of North Carolina, in response to the state’s persisting HB2 law. The law targets LGBT people and mandates discrimination against transgender people.
In its decision Monday at the annual fall leadership meetings, the Council of Presidents emphasized that NAIA National Championships must promote an inclusive atmosphere for all college athletes, coaches, administrators and fans. The Council of Presidents felt that North Carolina’s HB2 law makes it challenging to guarantee that type of environment if the NAIA Cross Country Championships remained in the state. There are no other NAIA championships scheduled to be held in North Carolina.
NAIA spokesperson Lynn Meredith told Outsports a new site has not yet been determined, but that at least two locations are being considered and they hope to have a commitment in the next few days.
“I think that’s the coolest thing in the world,” said David Gilbert, an LGBT runner at Lewis and Clark State College, an NAIA school. “I’m shocked they did this so close to the event.”
That the NAIA did this just weeks before the competition underscores how misguided the NFL was in refusing to move its owners meeting in May, and that the NCAA and others can in fact move events months before they are scheduled to take place. Previously the NCAA refused to move the Men’s Final Four from Houston despite the city legalizing discrimination against LGBT people five months before the event.
The NAIA’s move is the latest in a growing list of events moving out of North Carolina, including various championship-level events for the NCAA and ACC.
Hat tip to Erik Hall.