Election season punishment of sports-loving North Carolina continues with ACC action

by WorldTribune Staff, September 15, 2016

The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) has followed the NCAA’s lead and pulled all of its neutral site championships from the state of North Carolina for 2016-17 over House Bill 2 (HB2).

“This is political theater by the NCAA and ACC,” said U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, who represents North Carolina’a 8th District.

Clemson defeated North Carolina in last year's ACC football championship in Charlotte. /USA Today Sports
Clemson defeated North Carolina, 45-37, in last year’s ACC football championship in Charlotte. /USA Today Sports

“If these multi-million dollar, tax-exempt organizations were interested in social change and not making a political statement, they would proceed with their marquee events in North Carolina and enact any transgender bathroom policy they wanted. This blatant political move – less than two months before the election – brings into question their tax-exempt status. This is an avenue we intend to explore.”

Last year’s ACC football championship game’s attendance in Charlotte was 74,514. The Queen City had hosted the event for six straight years.

The move also means Cary will lose tennis and women’s soccer championships; Greensboro will lose swimming and diving championships as well as women’s golf and women’s basketball championships; Durham will lose the baseball championships; Stanly County will lose the men’s golf championships.

“The ACC presidents engaged in a constructive, wide-ranging and vigorous discussion of this complex issue over the past two days,” said Clemson University President James P. Clements, chair of the ACC Council of Presidents. “The decision to move the neutral site championships out of North Carolina while HB2 remains the law was not an easy one but it is consistent with the shared values of inclusion and non-discrimination at all of our institutions.”

North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore, a Republican from Cleveland County, said HB2 is not about discrimination.

“No one ever wants to lose events under any circumstances, but these organizations are certainly entitled to host their events wherever they choose,” Moore said in a statement. “The truth remains that this law was never about and does not promote discrimination. We will continue to advocate that North Carolina is a great place to live, do business, hold events and to visit.”

Gov. Pat McCrory said “the issue of redefining gender and basic norms of privacy will be resolved in the near future in the United States court system for not only North Carolina, but the entire nation. I strongly encourage all public and private institutions to both respect and allow our nation’s judicial system to proceed without economic threats or political retaliation toward the 22 states that are currently challenging government overreach.”

Rep. Paul Stam of Wake County said that in addition to the states suing over the issue, there are 28 states with bathroom policies similar to North Carolina’s.

The Durham Bulls Athletic Park has hosted the ACC baseball championships over the last two seasons, exceeding 60,000 in attendance, and was set to host the next two championships.

A statement sent from the Durham Bulls read, in part, “We understand the conference’s position, and support our partner’s decision to remove those championships from North Carolina. We look forward to a resolution of this issue, so that we can welcome the tournament back to Durham in future years. We have opposed House Bill 2 from the beginning, and continue to share that sentiment.”

Rep. Chris Sgro, Democrat of Guilford County and the only openly gay member of the General Assembly, says it is well past time for HB2 to be repealed. “This is not just hurting the economy of North Carolina,” Sgro said, “It’s also hurting our representation and our grand tradition of college basketball and other sports here in the state of North Carolina.”

The ACC includes Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.

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