In protest of HB-2, the sweeping anti-LGBT law passed by the North Carolina legislature last March, the NCAA elected to relocate all championship games scheduled to be held there for the 2016-2017 season.
According to the NCAA’s statement on their website, the move affects seven championship tournaments, including the first and second rounds of the 2017 D1 Men’s Basketball Championship. The new locations will be announced on October 7th.
Over the past few months, the national conversation has mainly been concerned with the first part of the law: an unprecedented provision forcing individuals to use the restroom of the sex indicated on their birth certificate in all publicly owned buildings, including schools. However, the NCAA Board of Directors enumerated three other reasons for their decision, in addition to the bathroom policing provision:
- 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.
The NCAA isn’t the only organization that has taken its business elsewhere as a result of the controversial law: Wired recently estimated that HB2 has already cost North Carolina almost $400 million, with the NCAA championships representing $51 million of that loss. The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law predicts that the state could lose up to “$4.8 billion in federal grants and contracts, primarily from the loss of $4.7 billion in funding for public schools, colleges, and universities”. The Williams Institute’s report also discusses the ways in which HB2 will worsen the discrimination and disparities faced by the LGBT people who live there.
While the move may affect the state economically, the biggest consequence (in the eyes of the general public) may be cultural: North Carolinians take college basketball very seriously. The Tar Heel State has hosted more men’s basketball tournament games (251) than any other state; fitting for a place with two great men’s basketball teams (Duke and UNC). If college basketball won’t change the minds of North Carolina’s legislature, nothing will.