The NCAA has agreed to “reluctantly” consider holding its championship event in the state of North Carolina after the state’s partial repeal of House Bill 2, which was widely known as the “bathroom bill” because it forced individuals to use the bathroom that corresponds with the sex listed on their birth certificate.
The NCAA’s decision to lift the ban on hosting championships in North Carolina means that the 2018 NCAA men’s basketball tournament will return to the Tar Heel State after Greensboro, N.C. lost its right to host in 2017. Those games were instead awarded to Greenville, S.C., costing the state millions in revenue. The 2018 tournament has Charlotte, N.C., scheduled to host first and second-round events, and those games will now take place as scheduled.
Had Charlotte lost those games, South Carolina likely would have again been the beneficiary of fallout from House Bill 2, as Columbia, S.C. had put in a bid for the Greensboro games before losing out to Greenville. However, the victory for Charlotte and North Carolina might only be a temporary one.
ESPN reported that the NCAA’s statement made it clear that the organization is still uneasy about holding events in North Carolina, and it would need to receive assurances from any prospective sites that athletes and fans would not face discrimination from the remnants of House Bill 2. Although the law was removed from North Carolina’s books, the compromise also stated that no anti-discrimination laws can be passed in the state before 2020. That has the NCAA concerned about potential problems as it prepares to award championships from 2019 to 2022, and could lead the tournament to skip North Carolina in favor of one of its neighbors.
One instance where North Carolina won’t have to worry is with the Atlantic Coast Conference’s football championship. Last year’s game was scheduled for Charlotte, but the law forced the ACC to move the game to Orlando, Fla., a move the conference has said will not be repeated this year as the championship game returns to North Carolina’s largest city.
The NCAA, meanwhile, will consider bids this month and make a final decision on sites for the next four years. North Carolina reportedly has bids in the pipeline from Raleigh, Greensboro, and Charlotte, which have all been regular hosts of the event along with Winston-Salem. This time, however, those cities will also be going up against cities in South Carolina, which had not been able to bid for games since 2002 because of the presence of the Confederate flag on its state capitol grounds. That ban was lifted when the Palmetto State removed the flag in 2016, a large reason why Greenville was chosen to replace Greensboro.
With the NCAA giving approval to the repeal of House Bill 2, North Carolina joins its southern neighbor as the only states to receive a hosting ban and successfully regain the right to host events. Mississippi is the only state that is banned from hosting the NCAA tournament because of the presence of the Confederacy’s symbol in its state flag, but that has meant nothing in practice, as the tournament has never been played in Mississippi, even prior to the Magnolia State’s formal ban in 2002.
Readers, do you agree with the NCAA’s decision not to pull games from Charlotte? Should North Carolina get to host future tournaments? Or did the repeal not go far enough? Sound off in the comments and like and share this story!
Commentary by Dan Angell
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