After HB2 ‘repeal’, NCAA awards North Carolina with NCAA tournament games as early as 2018

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The NCAA’s ban on events in the state of North Carolina has come to an end.

North Carolina will be getting the NCAA tournament back as soon as next season.

On Tuesday, the NCAA sent out an official release with the locations for all NCAA tournament sites for 2018-2022, and in 2018, 2020 and 2021, the NCAA will be playing first weekend games in North Carolina. In 2018, the games will be held in Charlotte, in 2020 they will be in Greensboro and in 2021 Raleigh will host the first weekend. In 2019 and 2022, the NCAA will have first weekend games hosted in South Carolina.

The NCAA had pulled first and second round games from Greensboro for this year’s tournament because of the controversial HB2 law, known as the Bathroom Bill, that was enacted in the state, instead allowing Greenville, South Carolina, to host the games. That’s significant because the NCAA, in 2002, pulled all events from that state because they flew the confederate flag on the statehouse grounds. The flag came down in 2015, and the NCAA rewarded the state with games; it’s hard not to see that as a statement to North Carolina.

In this year’s tournament, No. 2 seed Duke lost a game to No. 7 seed South Carolina in a game that was played in South Carolina instead of in North Carolina. The location wasn’t the only reason Duke lost that game, but you’ll have trouble convincing me that quasi-home court environment didn’t play a role.

The day before reaching a deadline that the NCAA imposed, North Carolina repealed HB2 and instituted HB142, which critics say does not actually repeal the discriminatory aspects of HB2.

HB142 eliminated the part the law that drew the most criticism, forcing transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate as opposed to the gender they identify as. HB142 says only state lawmakers, not local governments or school officials, can make rules for public restrooms. HB2 also invalidated any local laws that protect gay or transgender people from discrimination in the workplace or in public accommodations, which was the part of the law that was truly discriminatory and damaging. HB142 prohibits local governments from enacting any new such protections until December 2020.

Last summer, the NCAA sent out a questionnaire to all cities that were considering putting up a bid to host NCAA championship events. It included these questions:

  • Has your city, county/parish, and/or state passed anti-discrimination laws that are applicable to all persons?
  • Does your city, county/parish and/or state regulate choice of bathrooms or locker rooms that may affect student-athletes, coaches, administrators, or game officials during the Event?
  • Does your city, county/parish and/or state regulate choice of bathrooms that may affect fans attending the event?
  • Does your city, county/parish and/or state have provisions that allow for refusal of accommodations or service to any person?

That was clearly targeted at North Carolina, and replacing HB2 with HB142 only solves the problem of the bathrooms.

“What distinguished North Carolina,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in March of the repeal and replacement of HB2, “there were four distinct problems that the board had with that bill, and they removed some of them but not all of them. If you removed two or three of them, is that enough?”

Clearly, for the NCAA, it was enough, even if North Carolina didn’t actually satisfy the requirements that the NCAA had laid out for them.