North Carolina might not host an NCAA championship for at least five more years if changes aren't made soon to a controversial law.
The NCAA fired a shot across the state legislature's bow Thursday, saying in a brief statement that it will begin determining championship sites for 2018-2022 next week and North Carolina is on the verge of being excluded from the discussion.
The governing body announced last September it was pulling events from North Carolina in the wake of the passage of HB2, which prohibits municipalities in the state from enacting anti-discrimination ordinances. The law was passed in a special session and signed by then-Gov. Pat McCrory about a month after the city of Charlotte passed an ordinance that prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Though McCrory, a Republican, was voted out of office in November and his replacement, Democrat Roy Cooper, has been a vocal opponents of HB2, there has been no movement by the GOP-controlled legislature to roll back the measure. That means the state will continue to be excluded from hosting championship events, the NCAA said.
NCAA reaffirms North Carolina championship stance. pic.twitter.com/2XqPodlQUP— Inside the NCAA (@InsidetheNCAA) March 23, 2017
"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 ensure a safe, healthy, discrimination-free atmosphere for all those watching and participating in our events," the NCAA's release Thursday said. "Absent any change in the law, our position remains the same regarding hosting current or future events in the state."
Some have argued that the NCAA's decision to move events out of North Carolina already has harmed one of the state's teams.
The first- and second-round NCAA Tournament games held last week in Greenville, S.C., were originally slated for Greensboro, N.C. Duke and North Carolina were both sent to the site, and plenty of their fans made the relatively short trip across the border for the games. But Duke's second-round matchup against South Carolina ended up being what amounted to a road game for the second-seeded Blue Devils with the Greenville crowd pulling vocally for the home-state underdogs.
In addition to the NCAA's move, the ACC also relocated its football championship game last December from Charlotte to Orlando in response to HB2, and the NBA moved its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte to New Orleans.