The NCAA issued a grim warning to North Carolina on Thursday: Repeal your “bathroom law,” or forget about hosting major sporting events any time soon.
The college sports organisation confirmed that it will remove from consideration all bids to host championship events in North Carolina if the law isn’t repealed by mid-April, when event sites are selected.
The controversial law already cost the Tar Heel State more than a dozen events for the current academic year, after the NCAA and Atlantic Coast Conference relocated championships last summer. Now, 133 events are on the chopping block between 2018 and 2022.
“Last year, the NCAA Board of Governors relocated NCAA championships scheduled in North Carolina because of the cumulative impact HB2 had on local communities’ ability to assure a safe, healthy, discrimination free atmosphere for all those watching and participating in our events,” the NCAA said in a statement.
“Absent any change in the law, our position remains the same regarding hosting current or future events in the state.”
The bathroom law, known as HB2, blocks protections for LGBT residents and forces transgender people to use the bathroom that aligns with the sex listed on their birth certificate. Since exactly one year ago on Thursday, the Republican-backed legislation has drawn the ire of Democrats, LGBT advocates, and local business groups.
The NCAA’s ultimatum will ramp up the pressure on North Carolina’s General Assembly to repeal the law, but so far that has proven easier said than done. Repeal efforts have stalled in recent months, with Democrats and Republicans disagreeing on how far to scale it back.
After a particularly tense lawmaking session dedicated to killing the law devolved into partisan bickering in December, neither side seems willing to make concessions, and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has been unable to strike a viable deal. Now, some fear there is no repeal in sight.
“We’re moving in the opposite direction again,” House Democratic Leader Darren Jackson told Politico.
Meanwhile, residents are constantly reminded of the law’s consequences.
Last week, the Duke University men’s basketball team was eliminated from the NCAA tournament in an upset loss to the University of South Carolina, in a game the NCAA relocated because of HB2. The teams played in Greenville, South Carolina, just 90 minutes from the USC campus. Its originally scheduled site, Greensboro, North Carolina, would have been much friendlier territory for the Blue Devils.