Without mentioning North Carolina’s House Bill 2, the NCAA’s Board of Governors on Wednesday adopted a requirement that sites bidding on NCAA events demonstrate they will provide safe environments free of discrimination.
“The higher education community is a diverse mix of people from different racial, ethnic, religious and sexual orientation backgrounds,” Kirk Schulz, president of Kansas State University and the board’s chair, said in a release on the NCAA’s website. “So it is important that we assure that (the) community – including our student-athletes and fans – will always enjoy the experience of competing and watching at NCAA championships without concerns of discrimination.”
The NCAA has men’s basketball tournament games planned in North Carolina in 2017 and 2018.
The new policy comes as the state continues to feel the backlash to what many charge is a discriminatory law. HB2 blocked a Charlotte ordinance that would have protected gays, lesbians and transgender people from discrimination in employment and public accommodations – including bathrooms and locker rooms.
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The law also pre-empts similar local ordinances, and bans cities from raising the minimum wage. Private companies are able to set their own bathroom and nondiscrimination policies.
It triggered a strong reaction from companies interested in moving to the state, human rights activists and entertainers, who canceled shows. California-based PayPal canceled plans to open an operations center in Charlotte, costing the region 400 jobs. Conventions have canceled events in the state, including in Charlotte.
The NBA has threatened to move its All-Star game from Charlotte next year if the law isn’t removed.
The NCAA release said the board’s decision followed recent actions in several states that passed laws “allowing residents to refuse to provide services to some people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. While proponents of the laws focus on how they protect religious beliefs, critics have voiced concerns that they create an environment of sanctioned discrimination.”
The decision, the release said, affirmed the NCAA’s commitment to operate championships and events that promote an inclusive atmosphere.
The board said it considers inclusiveness of race, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity “as a vital element to protecting the well-being of student-athletes, promoting diversity in hiring practices and creating a culture of fairness.”
The NCAA has banned events in states that fly the Confederate flag and has prohibited members from hosting championships if their school nicknames use Native American images “considered abusive and offensive.”