(Full disclosure: I am almost utterly and completely biased against the NCAA.)
The NCAA is lying about why it dropped its boycott of North Carolina.
When the organization announced that it was reluctantly going to let Tar Heel cities bid for the privilege of hosting college sporting events, it provided a transparently dishonest reason.
In August of 2016, the NCAA Board of Governors instructed the relocation of NCAA championships scheduled in North Carolina during the 2016-17 academic year because of the cumulative impact HB2 had on local communities’ ability to ensure a safe, healthy, discrimination-free atmosphere for all those watching and participating in our events.
Last week, the elected officials of North Carolina enacted compromise legislation that repealed HB2 and replaced it with a new law, HB142, that addressed a number of the concerns that led to the relocation of the NCAA championships. As with most compromises, this new law is far from perfect.
The NCAA did not lobby for any specific change in the law. The Board of Governors, however, was hopeful that the state would fully repeal HB2 in order to allow the host communities to ensure a safe, healthy, discrimination-free atmosphere for the championship sites. While the new law meets the minimal NCAA requirements, the board remains concerned that some may perceive North Carolina’s moratorium against affording opportunities for communities to extend basic civil rights as a signal that discriminatory behavior is permitted and acceptable, which is inconsistent with the NCAA Bylaws.
However, we recognize the quality championships hosted by the people of North Carolina in years before HB2. And this new law restores the state to that legal landscape: a landscape similar to other jurisdictions presently hosting NCAA championships.
Let's test this rationale.
First case: The City of Charlotte hosted the ACC Championship football game at Bank of America Stadium from 2010 through 2015. Charlotte lost the game in 2016 over the NCAA and ACC economic sanctions.
When the game was played on Dec. 5, 2015 in the Queen City, there were no concerns about Charlotte offering a "safe, healthy, and discrimination-free atmosphere" - as the NCAA now requires host sites ensure (a standard that is impossible to attain).
It's critical to remember that in December 2015, the City of Charlotte had no law providing legal protected status for sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI). In other words, the lack of protections the NCAA cited as a reason to boycott North Carolina was the exact same status quo "atmosphere" that had existed in Charlotte since the city was founded.
Second case: The City of Asheville has hosted the Southern Conference basketball tournament since 2012. (And was just awarded the tourney through 2021.)
This tournament was held prior to HB2 being on the books.
Amid lobbying of SoCon leaders by Asheville officials, it was held while HB2 was law, as well.
There were no reports of discrimination.
I challenge the NCAA to find any reports of discrimination occurring during any of its events in North Carolina in the decade prior to HB2's passage. Well, aside from the blatant discrimination of holding "separate but equal" basketball championships for men and women, of course.
Without any sense of irony (or self awareness) the NCAA acknowledges "the quality championships hosted by the people of North Carolina in years before HB2." This, of course, was a time when there were no protections for LGBT people in Charlotte. What's more, the NCAA ignores the quality championships hosted while HB2 was on the books.
In other words, there was no difference in the pre-HB2 era and the HB2 era. Further, the NCAA admits there were no concerns prior to Charlotte's ordinance about the status quo lack of protections for LGBT people.
It's a hollow excuse to support a weak and insulting accusation that North Carolinians are incapable of providing a "safe, healthy, and discrimination-free atmosphere" unless there are city codes requiring it.