Both North Carolina and Duke are spending this weekend in Greenville, S.C., as the No. 1 seed in the South and the No. 2 seed in the East, respectively.
That’s not where they were supposed to be.
They were supposed to be in Greensboro, N.C. That’s where the first round games for the 2017 NCAA Tournament were awarded, and that’s who the NCAA revoked the games from due to House Bill 2, a law that was passed in 2016 by a Governor, Pat McCrory, who lost his reelection bid.
The NCAA has made it clear that they will not host NCAA events in state with discriminatory laws on their books, and North Carolina is in real danger of losing out on NCAA tournament games until 2022. As you might imagine, the two Hall of Famers that benefit the most from the tournament taking place in North Carolina are not happy about this.
“It would be nice if our state got as smart and also would host not just basketball tournaments but concerts and other NCAA events,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “But maybe we’ll get there in the next century, I don’t know. We’ll see.”
“Look, it’s a stupid thing,” K said, when pressed on the issue. “That’s my political statement. If I was president or governor I’d get rid of it. And I’d back up my promises. As unusual as that might be. Anyway, I don’t want to get too political.”
“I’m very sad, very disappointed about the whole thing, which apparently is something that’s really, really hard to change,” UNC’s Roy Williams said Thursday.
Both coaches praised the hosts in Greenville, but playing a tournament in South Carolina is different from playing the event in North Carolina. And while the cynic in me can’t shake the idea that Coach K and Ole Roy are only bucking because this hurts their basketball programs, even if that is the case, the two most famous men in the state this side of Cam Newton are publicly railing against a law that goes well beyond what bathroom people are allowed to use; HB2 reversed a Charlotte ordinance that gave rights to gay and transgender people, it prevented city and county governments from setting minimum-wage standards for private employers and it put a limit the way that people can sue for discrimination.
Regardless of their motivation, isn’t it a good thing that two of the biggest stars in the state are pushing back against that?