Amid the decision of the NBA to remove its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte because of North Carolina’s controversial House Bill 2, ACC Commissioner John Swofford reiterated Thursday that the law could affect where the conference holds championship games and other events.
Swofford said the NBA’s decision to remove its All-Star Game would “bring even more attention” to HB2, a state law that requires transgender people to use the bathrooms in government buildings and public schools and universities that matches the gender on their birth certificates instead of the bathroom of the gender in which they identify. Critics of HB2 say it’s discriminatory against the LGBT community.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver repeatedly urged North Carolina legislators to change HB2, and he made it clear if the law stood it would jeopardize Charlotte’s chance of hosting the All-Star Game. The NBA announced in a statement Thursday that it has decided to move the game.
The implications of such a decision are unclear for other major sporting events in the state. They’re unclear for the ACC, too, and its events in North Carolina. Asked if the NBA’s move would affect the ACC Championship football game in Charlotte, and other conference events, Swofford said, “I don’t think it does, immediately.”
“We came out of our spring meetings with our championships decided upon, the sites of those championships, decided upon for the 16-17 (academic) year,” Swofford said. “And with a very strong statement about inclusion and anti-discrimination and concern about the law and obviously that’s still in play as to where that ends up.
“The next time we’re together is October for our fall meetings and, depending on what’s happened at that point in time, I’m sure our schools will want to have some further discussion about it.”
Swofford and league officials discussed HB2 during the ACC’s meetings in May. By then several entertainers, including Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam, had canceled shows in North Carolina in protest of the law.
Last week, the Albany men’s basketball team backed out of its Nov. 12 game at Duke, which is part of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off tournament, because of HB2. New York state, where the school is located, has banned travel to North Carolina that is nonessential and publicly funded.
But the state had yet to lose a marquee sporting event because of HB2. That changed when the NBA announced its decision to pull the All-Star Game out of Charlotte.
Will the move put more pressure on the ACC to seriously consider removing its events from the state?
“I don’t think our schools would necessarily base what we do on what the NBA does,” Swofford said. “But at the same time, it’s a very high-profile event that’s leaving the state and will bring even more attention to that particular law and where it is and where it might end up.
I don’t think our schools would necessarily base what we do on what the NBA does.
ACC commissioner John Swofford
“But ultimately, as I understand it, it will probably be decided in the courts.”
The ACC’s football title game has found a regular home in Charlotte, and the state of North Carolina is a regular host of other ACC championships, including the men’s basketball tournament, which will be played in Brooklyn the next two seasons.
The women’s basketball tournament is scheduled to be at the Greensboro Coliseum through 2022. The ACC’s baseball tournament was at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in May and is scheduled to remain there through 2018.
In addition to the ACC’s events in North Carolina, NCAA men’s basketball tournament games also are scheduled for venues in the state. The Greensboro Coliseum is scheduled to host first- and second-round games in 2017, and Charlotte’s Time Warner Cable Arena is scheduled to host first- and-second round games in 2018.
“One of the problems that the NCAA has is that there are some similar laws in other states where they have championships,” Swofford said. “And so that can be somewhat of a slippery slope for an organization that jumps into that.
“But at the same time they’ve got the same concerns our conference would have.”