Sports official: HB2 could shut NC out of NCAA events for six years
Posted February 4
Updated February 6
Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolina could lose dozens of NCAA championship events over the next six years if legislation limiting protections for the LGBT community isn't repealed, the executive director of a sports group said.
Scott Dupree, executive director of the Raleigh Sports Alliance, sent a letter to all 170 members of the General Assembly on Monday on behalf of the North Carolina Sports Association, stating that cities, colleges and universities have submitted 133 bids to host NCAA events through 2022. He said that represents more than $250 million in economic impact.
"The NCAA’s bid review and evaluation process began in January. Our contacts at the NCAA tell us that, due to their stance on HB2, all North Carolina bids will be pulled from the review process and removed from consideration," Dupree wrote in the letter, obtained by WRAL News. "At that point, we will be faced with a six-year drought of NCAA championships in North Carolina."
House Bill 2, which state lawmakers passed in a one-day emergency session last March, excludes gay and transgender people from nondiscrimination protections and required that transgender individuals use bathrooms in schools and other government buildings that correspond to the gender listed on their birth certificates.
The law has brought national scorn on North Carolina, with businesses scrapping planned expansions, entertainers canceling concerts and organizations moving their conventions elsewhere. The NCAA has already pulled several championship events from the state, and the NBA moved the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte.
"What’s more, in terms of youth and amateur sports in the United States, the NCAA exerts tremendous influence," Dupree wrote. "When the NCAA decides it will no longer conduct events in North Carolina, the Atlantic Coast Conference and many other sports organizations will surely follow."
The ACC moved its football championship from Charlotte to Orlando in December because of House Bill 2.
"The NCAA news means there is no time to waste in repealing House Bill 2," Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement. "The bipartisan votes of both Democrats and Republicans are there for repeal if the Republican legislative leadership will just put it to a vote."
A deal to repeal House Bill 2 fell apart in December, but Senate Democrats last week filed a measure again calling for a repeal.
Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger blames Cooper for the failed repeal effort, and maintains that some compromise will be needed for another repeal deal to make it through the General Assembly.
"We are not going to get past where we are until we’ve got folks that are willing to talk about some sort of compromise," said Berger, R-Rockingham, reiterating the argument that most North Carolinians don't want men in women's bathrooms or locker rooms.
"People can say, 'Oh, they shouldn’t have those concerns,' but the reality is, if you look at all the surveys, a number of people – the vast majority of people in North Carolina – do have those concerns," he said. "I think it would be reckless of us not to take those into account."
Rep. Grier Martin, D-Wake, said there's no time for casting blame, and the legislature needs to act quickly.
"Let’s just find the solution, bring those dollars – $500 million this could cost us going forward in North Carolina – let’s stop that bleeding, get those jobs coming back to North Carolina, put the money into our restaurants, into our hotels and heck, let’s get together and watch an NCAA basketball tournament game," Martin said.
A survey conducted by The Associated Press and eight newspapers showed only 12 of 50 state senators and 40 of 118 current House members said they support abolishing the law, nearly all of them Democrats. Many Republicans say the law is needed to protect safety and privacy, while critics say those dangers are nonexistent.
"This letter is not intended to be political in any way, but rather objective and fact-based, so that all interested parties will have a clear understanding of what’s at stake and the urgent nature of these potential losses," Dupree wrote. "In a matter of days, our state’s sports tourism industry will suffer crushing, long-term losses and will essentially close its doors to NCAA business. Our window to act is closing rapidly."