NCAA: NC back in running to host events after law change
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The NCAA says it will consider North Carolina as a host for championship events again after the state rolled back a law that limited protections for LGBT people.
In a statement Tuesday, the governing body said its Board of Governors had reviewed moves to repeal repealed the so-called "bathroom bill" and replace it with a compromise law. The NCAA said the new law "meets the minimal NCAA requirements" while expressing some concerns about provisions within it.
The statement says a majority of the board "reluctantly voted" to allow for consideration of bids from North Carolina during current deliberations for sites running through 2022. Events for the 2017-18 season that have already been awarded to the state — such as opening-weekend men's basketball tournament games in Charlotte — will remain in place.
"We are actively determining site selections, and this new law has minimally achieved a situation where we believe NCAA championships may be conducted in a nondiscriminatory environment," the board's statement reads. "If we find that our expectations of a discrimination-free environment are not met, we will not hesitate to take necessary action at any time."
The NCAA pulled seven events from the state in September for the 2016-17 season, including men's basketball tournament games from Greensboro in March, in response to the law. That ban didn't impact teams which earn homecourt advantage during the course of the season, such as the Duke women's team hosting NCAA tourney games earlier in March.
The NCAA had made it clear that more events already awarded to the state could be relocated, while also saying it would remove North Carolina bids from consideration as it prepared to announce is next wave of site announcements.
But North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed a compromise bill Thursday to repeal elements of the law after passage by the state legislature earlier in the day. That came days after the NCAA had issued a statement that the state was down to its final days to get something done.
The Atlantic Coast Conference had followed the NCAA's lead last fall, pulling 10 neutral-site events out of the state — including moving the football championship game from Charlotte to Orlando.
But the ACC said Friday its Council of Presidents had voted to again consider North Carolina sites to host events. And that also ensured events already set for the state for the 2017-18 season would remain in place, meaning the football title game would return in December to Charlotte since it was contractually set to run there through 2019.
Speaking during his annual Final Four news conference Thursday, NCAA President Mark Emmert said the governing body would review the changes in hopes of reaching a quick decision by early this week.
"I'm personally very pleased that they have a bill to debate and discuss," Emmert said then. "The politics of this in North Carolina are obviously very, very difficult. But they have passed a bill now and it'll be a great opportunity for our board to sit and debate and discuss it."
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