SOURCE: ABC News •
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After similar decisions by the NBA and NCAA, the collegiate Atlantic Coast Conference yanked its planned championship games for the upcoming season from North Carolina, citing concerns over the Tar Heel State’s controversial House Bill 2, often called the bathroom bill.
The announcement follows the NBA’s decision in July to move the 2017 All-Star Game out of the state and the NCAA’s announcement Monday that it would relocate 2016–17 season championship games that had been planned for the state.
“Every one of our 15 universities is strongly committed to these values, and therefore, we will continue to host ACC Championships at campus sites,” the ACC Council of Presidents said in a statement. “We believe North Carolina House Bill 2 is inconsistent with these values, and as a result, we will relocate all neutral site championships for the 2016–17 academic year.”
Nonchampionship ACC games will continue to be played in North Carolina, the conference’s home state.
The decision means that the championship games for baseball, women’s soccer, football, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, women’s basketball, men’s and women’s tennis and men’s and women’s golf will be taken away from the state.
The three sports organizations cited concerns over HB2, which critics have derided as sanctioning discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people. Among other directives, the measure mandates that government agencies and public schools and colleges designate multioccupancy bathrooms and locker rooms for use on the basis of people’s “biological sex” as stated on their birth certificate.
The law’s proponents say it’s necessary to protect women and children from sexual offenders who might claim to be transgender in order to access bathrooms of the opposite sex.
The North Carolina Governor’s Office did not immediately comment on the ACC decision, but Republican leaders in the state blasted the previous decisions.
Calling the NCAA “a multibillion-dollar, tax-exempt monopoly,” North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, said the league was failing to show respect for the court system.
A representative for the state’s Republican Party, Kami Mueller, went further, saying that the NCAA’s “decision is an assault to female athletes across the nation” and “I wish the NCAA was this concerned about the women who were raped at Baylor.”
After the NBA decision, McCrory said that “American families should be on notice that the selective corporate elite are imposing their political will on communities in which they do business, bypassing the democratic and legal process.”
ACC Commissioner John Swofford said that “opposition to any form of discrimination is paramount” but acknowledged the impact the decision will have.
“While this decision is the right one, we recognize there will be individuals and communities that are supportive of our values as well as our championship sites that will be negatively affected,” he said.
Swofford added that he hoped that “there will be opportunities beyond 2016–17 for North Carolina neutral sites to be awarded championships.”
In a joint statement, the chancellors of North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina, Randy Woodson and Carol Folt, respectively, said they “regret today’s decision will negatively affect many North Carolinians, especially in the affected host communities.”
They said the two universities would “remain steadfast in our commitment to welcoming and supporting all people” and noted that their policies protect students from a host of discrimination, including on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.
ABC News’ Avianne Tan, Julia Jacobo and Geneva Sands contributed to this report. The Associated Press news agency also contributed.