NCAA moving 7 championship events out of North Carolina

ByAndy Katz ESPN logo
Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The NCAA will move seven championship events this academic year from the state of North Carolina, including the first and second rounds of the 2017 NCAA men's basketball tournament, because of the state's controversial HB2 law.

The NCAA's Board of Governors made the announcement late Monday night. The decision comes on the heels of the NBA moving the All-Star Game in February from Charlotte to New Orleans.

The board issued a statement saying, "Current North Carolina state laws make it challenging to guarantee the host communities can help deliver on that commitment if NCAA events remained in the state."

The NCAA said deciding factors in moving the events were that the North Carolina law "invalidated 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."

The NCAA cited that the HB2 law makes "it unlawful to use a restroom different from the gender on one's birth certificate, regardless of gender identity.''

The NCAA also pointed out that the law provides legal protection for government officials to refuse services to the LGBT community.

The seven events that will be moved:

Division I women's soccer championship College Cup, slated for Cary, N.C., Dec. 2 and 4.

Division III men's and women's soccer championship in Greensboro, Dec. 2-3.

Division I men's basketball tournament first/second rounds in Greensboro, March 17 and 19, 2017

Division I women's golf championship regional in Greenville, May 8-10.

Division III men's and women's tennis championship in Cary, May 22-27.

Division I women's lacrosse championship in Cary, May 26 and 28.

Division II baseball championship in Cary, May 27-June 3.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory issued a statement Tuesday denouncing the NCAA for taking "political retaliation" and failing to show respect while the matter is being addressed in the courts.

"The issue of redefining gender and basic norms of privacy will be resolved in the near future in the United States court system for not only North Carolina, but the entire nation," McCrory said in the statement. "I strongly encourage all public and private institutions to both respect and allow our nation's judicial system to proceed without economic threats or political retaliation toward the 22 states that are currently challenging government overreach.

"Sadly, the NCAA, a multi-billion dollar, tax-exempt monopoly, failed to show this respect at the expense of our student athletes and hard-working men and women."

The Duke men's basketball team is expected to be a preseason No. 1 and a likely top seed, meaning the Blue Devils probably would have been placed in Greensboro.

Duke already had to switch a non-conference opponent after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) banned the New York state university at Albany from playing at a North Carolina school due to HB2. New York, Minnesota, Washington, Vermont and Connecticut have banned state-sponsored travel to North Carolina.

The deadline for submitting bids to host any of the championship games previously slated for North Carolina is Sept. 27. An announcement for the new sites is expected on Oct. 7. Private sale tickets for the NCAA basketball first- and second-round games in Greensboro will be refunded. That process already has started. Due to the TV component, the new NCAA Tournament sites will have to be in an Eastern time zone.

"Fairness is about more than the opportunity to participate in college sports, or even compete for championships," said NCAA president Mark Emmert 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."

A number of musical acts also have canceled shows in the state due to the law.

New sites for the championships are expected to be determined soon. Schools in the state of North Carolina can earn the right to host a postseason tournament event, but it would not be a championship event sponsored by the NCAA.

NCAA vice president Dan Gavitt told ESPN that the men's basketball selection committee will have an expedited two-week bid process from interested sites to find a replacement for the first and second rounds of the tournament once slated for Greensboro in March. He said the plan would be to make the selection by mid-October.

Gavitt said the new site will be in the East, joining the other East regional site, Buffalo. Orlando and Indianapolis, the Southeast and Midwest, are the other two Eastern Time Zone sites. The NCAA wants a fourth site. Gavitt said it will be tough to find one on short notice due to NBA and NHL scheduling. That means the venue may have to be an arena on a college campus, or one that has a college team as a primary tenant. South Carolina sites are now a possibility since the state removed the Confederate flag from its state capitol in Columbia.

The future of the Belk Bowl in Charlotte is unclear. Although the NCAA could decertify the bowl this season -- the game cannot be played if it's not certified -- an industry source said he doesn't think the NCAA will do so.

The Belk Bowl matches teams from the SEC and ACC and is scheduled for Dec. 29 at 5:30 p.m. on ESPN from Bank of America Stadium.

"The NCAA is not going to do anything to make the Power 5 leagues mad," the source told ESPN's Brett McMurphy. "It would be interesting, though, to see what would happen if the bowl game was between the Sun Belt and Conference USA, or any Group of 5 conferences."

While the NCAA does not operate the postseason FBS bowl games or the College Football Playoff, it does certify bowls before each season. Since bowls already have been certified for the season, the NCAA could still decertify a bowl, making any student-athlete who participated in the game ineligible.

The ACC also has not taken any action about moving its football conference championship game. It's been in Charlotte since 2010 and is in the midst of a six-year deal to remain in Charlotte through 2019.

ACC commissioner John Swofford said his conference had previous plans to review the situation at this week's ACC Council of Presidents meeting

"So it would be premature to make any decisions or announcements," Swofford said.

In 2015, the NCAA threatened to move out of the state of Indiana, where its headquarters are located, if it didn't alter the state's Religious Freedom Law. Gov. Mike Pence, the current GOP vice presidential nominee, clarified that the law wouldn't discriminate against the LGBT community.

Information from ESPN's Brett McMurphy and Dana O'Neil was used in this report.

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