NCAA March Madness

March Madness to North Carolina: “Boy, bye.”

They say no publicity is bad publicity.  North Carolina is putting that to the test.

The state has been getting plenty of press on their controversial HB2 law, forcing transgender people to use the bathroom associated with the gender the were assigned at birth.  And the backlash has sent people running.

First, the NBA moved its all-star game, which one North Carolina senator estimated would be a “$100 million hit to the city of Charlotte and the state.” Now, the NCAA, which governs collegiate athletics, is pulling its championship events from the state.  This includes six first- and second-round games of the NCAA Tournament, a.k.a. March Madness.  This is one of the most widely watched events in collegiate sports.  Last year, more than 50,000 people attended NCAA tournament games hosted in Raleigh.

Related: NBA Stepping Up Against North Carolina’s Anti-Transgender Bathroom Law

In addition to men’s basketball, certain women’s soccer, golf, and lacrosse championships have been moved out of North Carolina, along with Division II men’s baseball and Division III men’s and women’s soccer championships.

The NCAA Board of Governors released the following statement about their decision:

N.C.A.A. 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.

This is just championship events, which are often played on a neutral site. Home and road games are not affected.  However, universities including Vermont and SUNY Albany have cancelled games that had been scheduled in North Carolina.  

On the heels of this decision from the NCAA, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) has decided to follow suit.  The ACC will move neutral-site championship games from North Carolina. This move means that the ACC Championship for football will be relocated.  Last year this game was attended by more than 73,000 people.  

After this decision, ACC Commissioner John Swofford gave a statement similar to the one from the NCAA, saying it was a decision of principle.

Related: NFL’s Arian Foster On Anthem Protest: “It’s about the message and the people saying it.”

Supporters of the law have been more tight-lipped.  Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representative Tim Moore did say that “this law was never about and does not promote discrimination,” according to the New York Times. North Carolina’s Lieutenant Governor, Dan Forest, reacted to the decisions by the NCAA and ACC by telling reporters that “our women and girls in the state of the North Carolina are not for sale.  The protection and safety and security of women and girls in North Carolina is our utmost importance.”  

Can either of them make those statements with a straight face?  

But it’s not even about safety; it’s about the fact that they disapprove of transgender people.  Well, North Carolina Republicans, you don’t get to choose. You can, however, choose to repeal this law and save your state a lot of heartache and lost revenue.

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