The NCAA’s announcement Monday that it was pulling its scheduled 2016-17 championship events out of North Carolina, in reaction to the state’s so-called “bathroom bill,” provoked some strong reactions. One particularly noteworthy response came from a spokesperson for the state’s Republican party, whose comments sparked a new set of reactions.
“This is so absurd it’s almost comical,” North Carolina Republican Party spokesperson Kami Mueller said in a statement Monday. “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. This decision is an assault to female athletes across the nation. If you are unwilling to have women’s bathrooms and locker rooms, how do you have a women’s team?
“I wish the NCAA was this concerned about the women who were raped at Baylor,” Mueller continued. “Perhaps the NCAA should stop with their political peacocking — and instead focus their energies on making sure our nation’s collegiate athletes are safe, both on and off the field.”
Other public figures also weighed in on the NCAA’s decision. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R), who was in Washington to accept an award from the conservative group Heritage Action for America, told The Post’s David Weigel that the NCAA’s decision was “ridiculous.”
“Why would you want to punish an entire state for a political issue that I’m sure many of the people of the state support?” he asked. “I don’t think it has anything to do with college sports. The NCAA ought to stay with sports and worry about the graduation rates of their athletes more than they worry about the political issues of the day.”
“The decision by the NCAA Board of Governors to relocate all current, and not award any future, NCAA Championship sites in the state of North Carolina continues to build upon the negative impact this bill has already had on the state,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. “HB2 was previously scheduled to be thoroughly discussed at this week’s ACC Council of Presidents meeting, so it would be premature to make any decisions or announcements regarding ACC Championships until our membership is able to discuss. The league’s longstanding commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusion will continue to be a central theme to our discussions.
“On a personal note,” Swofford continued, “it’s time for this bill to be repealed as it’s counter to basic human rights.”
“The NCAA just sent a clear message to North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory and state lawmakers that it will not tolerate hateful laws targeting student athletes, fans, and employees,” the president of Human Rights Campaign, Chad Griffin, said in a statement. “Every day that HB2 remains on the books, countless people across North Carolina are at risk of real harm. NCAA President Mark Emmert has shown tremendous leadership by taking a bold stand for equality in the face of discrimination. It’s long past time state lawmakers repealed this vile law, and if they don’t, the majority of voters opposed to HB2 will ensure they pay the price in November.”
The college sports national governing body announced Monday that it was moving its slate of 2016-17 championship events set to be played in North Carolina out of that state. In a news release, the NCAA outlined four reasons why it found North Carolina, as opposed to other states, to be an unacceptable site:
- Its state-level laws “invalidate 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.”
- It has “the only statewide law that makes it unlawful to use a restroom different from the gender on one’s birth certificate, regardless of gender identity.”
- North Carolina “provides legal protections for government officials to refuse services to the LGBT community.”
- The states of New York, Minnesota, Washington, Vermont and Connecticut, plus several municipalities, “prohibit travel to North Carolina for public employees and representatives of public institutions, which could include student-athletes and campus athletics staff.”
In July, the University of Albany announced that it would not travel to Duke for a scheduled men’s basketball game because New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned state employees from non-essential travel to the state of North Carolina. “It’s an embarrassing bill,” Blue Devils Coach Mike Krzyzewski said at the time of the legislation, also known as House Bill 2. North Carolina State Coach Mark Gottfried said he was “appalled” by HB2.
In all, seven championship events will be relocated, including first- and second-round games for the Division I men’s basketball tournament, scheduled to be held in Greensboro. Other events include Division I women’s soccer (Cary), Division I women’s lacrosse (Cary), Division III men’s and women’s soccer (Greensboro), Division III men’s and women’s tennis (Cary), Division II baseball (Cary) and regionals for Division I women’s golf (Greenville).
New sites for those events have yet to be determined. The NCAA is following an example set by the NBA, which moved its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte to New Orleans, as well as businesses such as PayPal and Deutsche Bank, which called off proposed expansions in North Carolina out of concerns with the new law, which has also hampered tourism in the state.
“Historically, the Association has taken steps to ensure its championship environment is consistent with its values,” the NCAA said in its news release. “The NCAA bans championships in states where governments display the Confederate battle flag or authorize sports wagering and at schools that use hostile and abusive Native American imagery.
“The only championship events that can be hosted in North Carolina this academic year are those that are decided when student-athletes earn the opportunity to play a championship on their own campus.”
Washington Post politics reporter David Weigel contributed to this report.