NCAA votes to relocate seven college championship events over restroom law

The NCAA announced Sept. 12 it will remove seven championship events slated for North Carolina because of the state’s controversial restroom law.

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

The NCAA Board of Governors made the decision to move the 2016-17 contests, which include the Division I Women’s Soccer Championship in Cary, and first and second round NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament games in Greensboro, because it cannot support North Carolina’s “discriminatory” restroom policy.

In March, North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature adopted legislation to block a Charlotte ordinance that would have allowed anyone to use any restroom or locker room of their choice, regardless of their biological sex. The bill, known as HB2, requires persons use the restroom or locker room facilities that correspond with the gender on their birth certificates.

In the months since, North Carolina has become a battleground for transgender acceptance, with lawsuits and political attacks from the LGBT community.

The NCAA stated in a press release Monday its events must promote an inclusive atmosphere for everyone, claiming HB2 raises unique challenges to continuing that tradition.

The college sports governing body claims HB2 grants opportunity for officials to discriminate against the LGBT community and pointed to the non-essential travel bans issued by five different states against North Carolina because of the law.

The only championship events hosted in North Carolina this academic year will be those student-athletes earn the opportunity to play on their own campuses. NCAA officials will find other locations for all other championship events until further notice.

Gov. Pat McCrory did not immediately respond to the NCAA’s decision, but the state’s Republican Party released a strongly worded statement calling it an assault on female athletes across the nation.

“This is so absurd it’s almost comical,” said spokeswoman Kami Mueller. “I genuinely look forward to the NCAA merging all men’s and women’s teams together as singular, unified, unisex teams. Under the NCAA’s logic, colleges should make cheerleaders and football players share bathrooms, showers, and hotel rooms.”

The move by the NCAA follows a trend of other groups trying to punish North Carolina because of HB2.

Since McCrory signed the bill into law, several corporations decided to postpone or cancel expansions in the state. Some big-name musicians, including Bruce Springsteen, canceled shows. In July, the NBA decided to relocate its annual All-Star Game from Charlotte to New Orleans.

McCrory is up for reelection in November and his opponent, state Attorney General Roy Cooper, has used the controversy to vilify the governor, saying his stance has cost North Carolina millions in economic benefit.

But throughout the process, McCrory has stuck by his decision, claiming HB2 is a common-sense law that protects women and children in intimate settings.

“Are we really talking about this?” McCrory asked in a recent campaign ad. “Does the desire to be politically correct outweigh our children’s privacy and safety? Not on my watch.”

— by Evan Wilt

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