Such a decision does not appear to have been difficult for the NCAA, apart from the logistical issues involved with moving the seven championship events in question. After all, the NCAA was following the lead of the NBA, which already had announced it was moving the 2017 All-Star Weekend away from Charlotte because of HB2. A number of businesses have called off planned expansions into North Carolina, as well, and Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski has called HB2 “embarrassing.”
Things will be much trickier for the ACC, however. Headquartered in Greensboro and with four founding members residing in the state, the conference has been intertwined with North Carolina for most of its history. All but 12 editions of the ACC men’s basketball tournament — the conference’s crown-jewel event, which first was played in 1954 — have been held in the state (though the next two will be played in Brooklyn, N.Y.), and the past 23 ACC women’s tournaments have been played there, too. The past six ACC football championship games have taken place in Charlotte, and the next four are scheduled to.
In short, the ACC is North Carolina, and now it has to decide whether a partial break-up is necessary.
In the wake of Monday’s NCAA news, ACC Commissioner John Swofford seemed to indicate that a decision on the conference’s plans could be made soon after this week’s ACC Council of Presidents meeting.
“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,” 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“On a personal note, it’s time for this bill to be repealed as it’s counter to basic human rights.”
The ACC will hold 11 championships in North Carolina this academic year: football, women’s basketball, baseball, cross-country, women’s soccer, swimming/diving, fencing, wrestling, golf, tennis and softball. Finding replacement sites for nearly all of those events almost certainly would not be difficult, and even moving the football championship game wouldn’t be an insurmountable obstacle, as NFL stadiums in the Washington area (FedEx Field), Tampa (Raymond James Stadium, site of the 2008 and ’09 games) and Miami (Hard Rock Stadium) are not being used the weekend of Dec. 3. Non-NFL stadiums in Orlando (Camping World Stadium) and Columbia, S.C. (Williams-Brice Stadium) also appear to be free.
NCAA President Mark Emmert said Tuesday that the organization will exert no pressure on conferences to pull events from North Carolina over HB2. “That’s going to be completely up to the conferences,” he said. But the NCAA’s announcement Monday should be pressure enough for Swofford and the ACC to announce where they stand — the sooner the better.