NCAA mulls response to N.C. lawmakers' vote to repeal 'bathroom bill' before deadline

By Ron Clements 31 March 2017 133
NCAA mulls response to N.C. lawmakers' vote to repeal 'bathroom bill' before deadline

North Carolina lawmakers believe they've done what was necessary for the NCAA, NBA and other leagues to keep marquee sporting events in the Tar Heel State. 

NCAA president Mark Emmert said Thursday he is pleased that progress has been made, but will let the NCAA board of governors have the final say with a decision to come in the "next several days."

North Carolina legislators announced Wednesday night they reached an agreement with Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper on a repeal of the law to end the standoff over the state's "bathroom bill." The NCAA had set a Thursday deadline for the legislature to change HB2 or be further excluded from hosting events through 2022.

Cooper announced Thursday afternoon that he had signed HB142, which repeals HB2. 

HB2 nullified Charlotte’s expanded nondiscrimination ordinance that extended legal protection for gay, lesbian and transgender individuals. It also required transgender people to use the bathroom that would correspond with the gender on their birth certificate in government buildings.

HB142 was met with harsh criticism from the LGBT community, saying the compromised partial repeal does not do enough to protect their civil rights. 

The passing of HB2 led to the 2017 NBA All-Star Game being moved from Charlotte to New Orleans, the first-round games in this year's NCAA men's basketball tournament being moved from Greensboro to Greenville, S.C., and the ACC's football championship game being moved from Charlotte to Orlando.

"The recently passed legislation allows the opportunity to reopen the discussion with the ACC Council of Presidents regarding neutral site conference championships being held in the state of North Carolina," ACC Commissioner John Swofford said in a statement released Thursday. "This discussion will take place in the near future, and following any decisions by the ACC Council of Presidents, announcements will be forthcoming."

Cooper said he has had "a lot of contact" with NCAA officials and believes the partial repeal will be enough to satisfy their concerns. 

"I believe sports are coming back," Cooper said during his press conference to announce the repeal. "This was the best deal we could get. It wasn't a perfect deal or my preferred solution, but an important first step for our state.

"This was not about sports or businesses. It was about discrimination. And it was about North Carolina's reputation."

During Emmert's annual media address, the NCAA president said he would defer to the NCAA's board of governors. Emmert added that he does not believe the NCAA should dictate to states what their laws should be, but wants sites that have an environment that supports the NCAA. 

"The board of governors have to determine whether this bill that was passed today was a sufficient change in the law," Emmert said Thursday at the site of this year's Final Four in Glendale, Ariz. "I'm personally very pleased they have a bill to debate and discuss."

Omnisport's Kirstie Chiappelli contributed to this report.

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Ron Clements