Politics & Government

Here’s how the ACLU plans to answer the NCAA’s challenge before it picks any NC sites

Maribeth Bloncheck, middle, celebrates with other Tar Heel fans at Top Of The Hill restaurant as North Carolina defeated Gonzaga to win the NCAA Basketball Championship in Chapel Hill, N.C., Monday, Apr. 3, 2017
Maribeth Bloncheck, middle, celebrates with other Tar Heel fans at Top Of The Hill restaurant as North Carolina defeated Gonzaga to win the NCAA Basketball Championship in Chapel Hill, N.C., Monday, Apr. 3, 2017 AP

When the NCAA put North Carolina back in the running for championship events last week, it did so with a condition: potential venues must show they can prevent discrimination.

On Friday, the state ACLU will ask those venues to prove it.

The ACLU plans to file public records requests with the cities expected to bid for NCAA events, including Charlotte, Cary, Greensboro and Raleigh, as well as 11 state schools, including UNC Charlotte and UNC-Chapel Hill.

The ACLU was one of several LGBT and progressive groups that protested last week’s passage of House Bill 142, a compromise that repealed HB2 – known as “the bathroom bill” – but put a four-year moratorium on the adoption of non-discrimination ordinances by local governments.

“We’re filing public records requests because we need to know how the cities and schools who are bidding (for NCAA events) will guarantee a non-discriminatory environment in light of the passage of HB 142,” Chris Brook, the ACLU’s legal director, said Thursday.

The compromise, supported by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and Republican legislative leaders, was enough for the NCAA to drop the boycott that had moved the first round of last month’s basketball tournament from Greensboro to Greenville, S.C. In its statement, the NCAA said its board had “reluctantly” agree to once again consider N.C. sites.

“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 statement said. “The board, however, directs that any site awarded a championship event … be required to submit additional documentation demonstrating how student-athletes and fans will be protected from discrimination.”

The NCAA is expected to announce its site selections on April 18.

The city of Charlotte passed a wide-ranging non-discrimination ordinance last year but rescinded it in December as part of an aborted deal to repeal HB2. According to the city attorney’s office, it has no law that prevents discrimination outside of city employees and job applicants.

“It’s not immediately plain how localities and schools would satisfy the NCAA’s stated commitment to non-discrimination protection,” Brook said, “and that is what the Freedom of Information requests are driving at.”

Jim Morrill: 704-358-5059, @jimmorrill

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