Now that the NCAA has retreated from North Carolina in the face of discriminatory and unnecessary state legislation, a question.
OK, two questions.
First, is there really such a depth of confusion in North Carolina over which bathroom to occupy? For the state to go to all the trouble to pass the so-called bathroom bill – although House Bill 2 contains more seriously grievous aspects than that – there must be whole legions of gender-benders there ready to storm the stalls. OK, what we have here is a bad solution in search of a problem.
Second, what is the ACC to do now?
The conference, based in North Carolina and the home to four member schools that aren’t so keen about HB2, has some history of removing events due to objectionable public policy.
Ask South Carolina and Myrtle Beach, which lost the 2011-13 ACC baseball tournament because of a confederate flag controversy (the flag has since been removed from the state capitol).
The NCAA Monday announced it was pulling all of its 2016-17 championship events scheduled for North Carolina – seven of them, ranging from the first weekend of its men’s basketball tournament to the D III men’s and women’s tennis championships.
So, what of the ACC, which has 17 championships scheduled over the school year in sweet home North Carolina? Most notably there is the conference championship football game, set for Dec. 3 in Charlotte.
Does Commissioner John Swofford and his conference have the will to follow suit and make the powerful statement by relocating that plum to, say, Tampa or Orlando (where presumably there will be no need for chromosome testing at the bathroom door)?
That answer came, resoundingly, on Wednesday when the ACC's council of university presidents voted to move all neutral site championship out of North Carolina. Yes, that includes the big football game.
The statement from the presidents read: “As members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, the ACC Council of Presidents reaffirmed our collective commitment to uphold the values of equality, diversity, inclusion and non-discrimination. Every one of our 15 universities is strongly committed to these values and therefore, we will continue to host ACC Championships at campus sites. We believe North Carolina House Bill 2 is inconsistent with these values, and as a result, we will relocate all neutral site championships for the 2016-17 academic year. All locations will be announced in the future from the conference office.”
It was the slap in the face to North Carolina heard around the conference.
A meaningful rebuke. A reminder that the ACC prefers its marquee events to take place in the 21st Century.
Life in the ACC otherwise will go on – which means, for example, that the rebuilding Georgia Tech men’s basketball team unfortunately is still obliged to make the trip to Duke on Jan. 4. It is for the conference leadership to decide whether North Carolina is a worthy stop for its discretionary championship events.
The recent decision by the NCAA was simple, a lay-up if ever there was one.
This was the much more difficult call, at the root level. Frankly, a little to my surprise, the ACC did have the fortitude to isolate North Carolina even though it lives on that very same island.