The NCAA announced on Monday the relocation of seven previously awarded championship events — including NCAA tournament games in Greensboro — from the state of North Carolina during the 2016-17 academic year as a result of the state's controversial House Bill 2.
The law prevents cities and counties from passing protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. And public schools must require bathrooms or locker rooms be designated for use only by people based on their biological sex. The NCAA sent a questionnaire in July concerning discrimination issues to the local organizing groups in cities that have been named to host any NCAA event in any of its three competitive divisions or are interested in staging them.
The NBA moved its the All-Star game in Charlotte for the same reasons in July and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski called the law "embarrassing" in an interview with USA TODAY Sports.
The NCAA cited "state laws that limit civil rights protections" and emphasized that its championship events must promote an "inclusive atmosphere for all college athletes, coaches, administrators and fans."
“Fairness is about more than the opportunity to participate in college sports, or even compete for championships,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said 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."
Cyd Zeigler, LGBT activist and co-founder of Outsports, said the move is a big step in the right direction but still felt there was more work to be done on the NCAA's behalf.
"I'm surprised and encouraged by the NCAA's announcement," Zeigler said. "They have previously fallen back on the idea that the national office has limited power and bureaucratic hurdles to affect change like this. Now that they've taken this step, they need to further protect student-athletes and coaches and ban all members with specific anti-LGBT policies. Removing events from North Carolina is nice, but the association continues to have members that discriminate against LGBT people. What they do with those members in the next year will tell us how serious they are, or if this was just a P.R. move."
The seven events that will be relocated are:
► 2016 Division I Women’s Soccer Championship, College Cup (Cary), Dec. 2 and 4.
► 2016 Division III Men’s and Women’s Soccer Championships (Greensboro), Dec. 2 and 3.
► 2017 Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, first/second rounds (Greensboro), March 17 and 19.
► 2017 Division I Women’s Golf Championships, regional (Greenville), May 8-10.
► 2017 Division III Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships (Cary), May 22-27.
► 2017 Division I Women’s Lacrosse Championship (Cary), May 26 and 28.
► 2017 Division II Baseball Championship (Cary), May 27-June 3.
New locations for the championship events are expected soon.
The NCAA Board of Governors stressed in its announcement that "North Carolina has the only statewide law that makes it unlawful to use a restroom different from the gender of one's birth certificate, regardless of gender identity."