North Carolina is back in the NCAA's good graces — but just barely — after its legislature moved last week to repeal and replace a controversial law that had prevented communitites from passing non-discrimination measures.
The NCAA's Board of Governors released a statement Tuesday that called the state's move to replace HB2 with the new HB142 "far from perfect" but said it will "reluctantly" allow bids from sites in North Carolina to host championship events over the next five years.
The NCAA pulled championships from the state in August 2016, months after HB2 was passed by the legislature in a special session and signed into law by then-Gov. Pat McCrory. The measure was a response to an ordinance passed by the Charlotte City Council prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in public accommodations.
The passage of HB2 had a significant impact in the sports world, with the NBA pulling its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte and the ACC moving its 2016 football championship game from Charlotte to Orlando in addition to the NCAA's relocation of first- and second-round NCAA Tournament games and other events.
NCAA hosting contracts are generally awarded in multi-year increments, and the governing body is currently in the process of determining sites for numerous championships set to be held between 2018 and 2022. The NCAA had made it clear to North Carolina that it would not be considered as a host if changes weren't made to HB2, spurring the legislature and current Gov. Roy Cooper to move on the new law.
While acknowledging some progress in the changes, the NCAA's release Tuesday makes it clear that concerns remain.
"We are actively determining site selections, and this new law has minimally achieved a situation where we believe NCAA championships may be conducted in a nondiscriminatory environment," it reads in part. "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."