So, the NCAA doesn’t have actual guts after all.
See, you thought they were in it for the long haul, just because they yanked NCAA Tournament games and other championship events from North Carolina last fall. You thought they were going to hold the state lawmakers’ feet to the fire until they revoked every trace of the homophobic, transphobic laws they were putting in place, led by the heinous HB2 “bathroom bill.”
It appears now that so long as those lawmakers didn’t go on live TV to flip the NCAA the double-bird and shout, “I got your March Madness right here!”, the NCAA was only going to push them so far on that bill.
It appears that way because all of seven months after its bold move to take the NCAA tournament from its longtime hosting site of Greensboro, N.C. (and other cities in other sports), they went right back on Tuesday and awarded gamesto the city and the state, starting in 2019 for women’s basketball and 2020 for men’s.
The NCAA had the stomach for exactly one fight, for one stand, for one defense of their principles. And that was all.
Nobody who studies these things and takes them seriously believes that last month’s “new” bill passed in North Carolina gets the state off the anti-LGBT hook.
The advocacy group Athlete Ally and executive director Hudson Taylor took the NCAA behind the woodshed for buckling so fast.
“Until the NCAA clearly publishes what constitutes an inclusive and safe environment for LGBT players, coaches, fans, administrators and officials, they will continue threatening the safety of the LGBT community at their championship events,” Taylor said in a statementTuesday.
Taylor’s reaction openly ridicules the NCAA’s own words, in its release announcing the sites for 2018 to 2022; the criteria for selection, it claimed, includes “adherence to NCAA principles, which include providing an atmosphere that is safe and respects the dignity of all attendees.’’
Two weeks ago, when the NCAA decided the faux-repeal of HB2 was good enough for them, they said that North Carolina had “minimally achieved a situation where we believe NCAA championships may be conducted in a nondiscriminatory environment. 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.’’
Hey, there’s a window for the NCAA to ride in and snatch the tournament back out, the way they did in September, right? Just six months before the world was scheduled to show up back in Greensboro, right? When they had super-big leverage, right?
They had it then. They don’t have it now.
The state had something to be scared of. They called their bluff anyway. The NCAA acted, and the state reacted with this cosmetic thing they passed.
And the NCAA came running back, yelling, “Take our money. But seriously, next time, you just watch out …”
There won’t be a next time.
Worse, there likely won’t be a first time for the other states, including Texas, considering similar discriminatory bills — and who also were awarded future championships. What do they have to be scared of now?
Some day, some major organization will use its clout, its platform, its financial muscle, to make North Carolina do the right thing. (And it has to be the right thing now, because “a little less of the wrong thing” is what they’ve already got.)
It might be the NBA. They still haven’t made any comment or moves about the future of All-Star games in Charlotte after they pulled last February’s events out.
Their backbones are still intact.
Not the NCAA’s, though.
They’re one and done.