With or without HB2, complications hinder CIAA's exit from Charlotte
Posted February 24
Charlotte, N.C. — After the NBA and the NCAA have moved events from North Carolina over House Bill 2, many are contemplating the future of the CIAA Tournament played in Charlotte this week.
The CIAA Tournament is the conference’s signature event, bringing in millions of dollars each year to Charlotte. When the Board of Directors meets in May, it will have a decision to make if HB2 is still on the books in North Carolina.
The CIAA tournament is a five-day event, with an estimated economic impact of more than $57 million, based on numbers from the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority. For the past 12 years, the event has been held in Charlotte.
“There’s nothing like coming into a community and your student athletes that are LGBTQ or they are African-American or Latino or white, they don’t feel welcomed in a community,” said CIAA commissioner Jacqui McWilliams. “I can tell you we’ve had several conversations, whether its student athletes or fans, they love the footprint of this community.”
The CIAA moved eight of its 10 championships, including the football title game, out of North Carolina because of HB2. The measure, which requires people to use public bathrooms that match their birth gender and excludes gay and transgender people from discrimination protections, has led to some fans, including Raleigh resident John Jackson’s friends, boycotting this year’s tournament.
“They were hoping that the legislature would have done something that would have made it more palatable for us to be here by now, but they didn’t,” Jackson said.
Other fans said HB2 or not, they are ready for a change after more than a decade in Charlotte.
“It’s been here for a lot of years and I just think it’s time to move in general,” said Durham resident Sylvia Cotton.
With or without the repeal of HB2, a move for the CIAA Tournament would be complicated. The CIAA relocated its headquarters to Charlotte from Virginia almost two years ago. Eight of the CIAA’s 12 member schools are in North Carolina, including three in the Triangle area.
McWilliams contends she wants the CIAA to be part of the solution concerning the debate about HB2.
“We’re hoping this legislation will change and then it will take some of the heat, or maybe it will take some of the pressure we might be feeling from individual thinking we should move out of Charlotte,” she said.
Many CIAA chancellors concede moving the tournament out of North Carolina over HB2 could cost each school millions of dollars, some of which cover scholarships.
The CIAA’s current contract with Charlotte runs through 2020.