NCAA takes a stance against anti-LGBTQ laws in NC

Bethany Blass & Lauren Whelan, Sports Co-Editors

The hype surrounding men’s college basketball throughout the United States is palpable; Villanova’s national championship last year shocked the nation and pulled in viewers across the country. As the current season begins to heat up, many eyes are already looking toward the championship tournament, which occurs in March each year, known as “March Madness.”

The publicity and news surrounding this year’s tournament, however, has been ongoing since September, when the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announced a tournament location change. While the tournament was originally supposed to have games played in the state of North Carolina, the games were ultimately moved to a different location due to recent North Carolina laws that curbed anti-discrimination legislation for the protection of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.

The NCAA Board of Governors, composed of institutional presidents, is cited as having made this decision in an effort to promote inclusivity, noting that current North Carolina laws make it challenging for host teams to create an inclusive environment.

The law in question, signed in March 2016 by North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, nullified local government ordinances establishing anti-discrimination protections for members of the LGBTQ community. Its instant media coverage came in response to the law’s stipulation that requires people in public buildings to use the restroom that corresponds to the gender on their birth certificate. The laws have received much backlash in the past few months, which was reinforced by the NCAA’s recent statement, and McCrory recently lost his reelection campaign in North Carolina.

While the basketball tournament probably has the largest spotlight, the NCAA has actually implemented this rule for all championship and tournament games that were originally planned to be in the state. Among other relocated events include championship events for Division I women’s golf, Division I women’s soccer, Division I women’s lacrosse, Division II baseball, Division III tennis for both men and women, and Division III soccer for both men and women. This decision comes after the NBA announced in July that the 2017 All-Star game would be moved from its original location of Charlotte, N.C., because of the same legislation. The Charlotte community will surely feel the effects of this stance made by the NCAA in economic consequences, as it may spark further activism from local sports leagues or schools.

Other universities have already begun to fall suit. The University of Vermont has canceled a women’s basketball game that was scheduled to be at the University of North Carolina. Additionally, the State University of New York at Albany has canceled a men’s basketball game scheduled to be located at Duke.

As the college basketball season begins, this decision by the NCAA to move such high profile games will surely come in to the spotlight more and more. The move is a very decisive stand by the organization, and it truly sends the message that the NCAA supports an inclusive environment for athletes, and for all, moving forward.

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