(Paul Chesser, Liberty Headlines) After spending the academic year chastising and threatening North Carolina for its allegedly “discriminatory” House Bill 2 (HB2) law that required individuals to use public restrooms according to their biological gender, the NCAA reversed field today and will again allow bids from the state to host its sports tournaments.
The Tar Heel State still requires people to use public facilities (businesses can decide for themselves, as always) according to the sex they are identified by on their birth certificates. But last week the Republican-dominated NC General Assembly and Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper passed a “repeal” of HB2 that erased that legislation’s language from state statutes, which still left in place a prohibition against the state’s local governments from regulating public accommodations via ordinances. For some reason that was good enough for the NCAA.
“The [NCAA] Board of Governors…was hopeful that the state would fully repeal HB2 in order to allow the host communities to ensure a safe, healthy, discrimination-free atmosphere for the championship sites,” the organization said in a statement released today. “While the new law meets the minimal NCAA requirements, the board remains concerned that some may perceive North Carolina’s moratorium against affording opportunities for communities to extend basic civil rights as a signal that discriminatory behavior is permitted and acceptable, which is inconsistent with the NCAA Bylaws.”
Contrary to the statement, however, the new law did not meet the NCAA’s previously stated requirements. Among the shortcomings against what NCAA previously said North Carolina must do are the fact that local laws that treat sexual orientation as a protected class are still prohibited, and the fact that individuals can still be in violation of the law if they don’t use public restrooms according to the gender designation on their birth certificates.
“We recognize the quality championships hosted by the people of North Carolina in years before HB2,” the NCAA statement on Tuesday said. “And this new law restores the state to that legal landscape: a landscape similar to other jurisdictions presently hosting NCAA championships.”
The standards were also similar to other states before HB2 was “repealed,” which pro-transsexual rights groups seemed to understand well.
“The NCAA’s decision to backtrack on their vow to protect LGBTQ players, employees and fans is deeply disappointing and puts people at risk,” said Chad Griffin, president of Human Rights Campaign, which has angrily and ambitiously instigated boycotts of the state by corporations, organizations and artists. “After drawing a line in the sand and calling for repeal of HB2, the NCAA simply let North Carolina lawmakers off the hook.”
“It is disappointing to see the NCAA backpedal after it stood strong against the deeply discriminatory HB2,” said Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro. “HB142 [the repeal law] continues the same discriminatory scheme put forward by HB2 and does little to protect the NCAA’s players, employees, and fans.”
The pro-transsexual groups have been livid since the legislative measure was signed into law on Thursday by Cooper, whom they have called a “sell-out,” after they aggressively attempted to help him defeat previous Republican Gov. Pat McCrory in November.
Supporters of the original HB2 in North Carolina responded to the NCAA’s announcement with skepticism.
“The NCAA displayed breathtaking hypocrisy concerning the bathroom bill, selectively boycotting the state for policies quite common throughout the nation and where they were holding events,” said Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina. “With their assistance, everything now is politicized, even intercollegiate athletics.”
“The NCAA’s boycott of North Carolina achieved what it wanted—the repeal of HB2—proving that bullying works as long as you meet the demands of the bully,” said Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the NC Values Coalition. “However, the NCAA had no business demanding anything of North Carolina lawmakers. Nondiscrimination laws in North Carolina—even under HB2—have always been similar to 29 other states and 10,000 other municipalities.”
Since little changed with regard to legal status in North Carolina as far as special rights for self-proclaimed individuals who are “transgender” or “gender fluid,” other factors could have contributed to the NCAA’s decision to reverse course.
First, legislation co-sponsored by several lawmakers has been introduced that would require NC House and Senate leaders to ask the IRS to investigate the legitimacy of the nonprofit, tax-exempt status of the NCAA, because of its political activity surrounding HB2. The organization seemed especially sensitive to this charge, even mentioning in Tuesday’s statement that it “did not lobby for any specific change in the law,” but that it merely “was hopeful that the state would fully repeal HB2.”
“They’ve arguably violated their non-profit status, and figuratively speaking, held North Carolina politics, as well as its economy, hostage to the point of a gun,” Rev. Creech said.
The same legislation also demands that any public university president in North Carolina, that serves on the boards of athletic associations such as the NCAA or Atlantic Coast Conference, to be transparent to the public with regard to their votes and their activities on those boards. The chancellors of University of North Carolina and North Carolina State University were criticized recently by some members of the UNC Board of Governors because of their secretive votes about the ACC’s boycott of the state because of HB2.
The NCAA also could be concerned about how its sponsors felt about its political involvement in the divisive issue in North Carolina. Eighteen major corporations back the organization — most of which ducked recent inquiries by Liberty Headlines about their future support.
“The NCAA is all about the money,” said Justin Danhof, director of the Free Enterprise Project at the National Center for Public Policy Research. “The NCAA fills it coffers by exploiting student athletes and generates significant advertising revenue in the process. North Carolina is a state full of top-quality athletic programs and facilities. It’s certainly possible that the NCAA felt pressure from its major advertisers to once again open the Tar Heel state for business.”
Liberty Headlines inquired with NCAA spokeswomen Stacey Osburn and Gail Dent about potential concerns regarding sponsors, tax-exempt status, and transparency by the members of its Board of Governors. They had not responded to the inquiry by publication time.
“The NCAA is now being opportunistic and wielding its power over the State of North Carolina, and is clearly not concerned about the safety of women and girls—even though it touts its commitment to the success of female athletes on and off the playing field,” said Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association.
“Additionally, does the NCAA require all football and basketball venues to allow men to use women’s restrooms during sporting events?” Wildmon added. “If not – good. However, if not, it would highlight the NCAA’s appalling hypocrisy, since the organization felt the need to require North Carolina to do so.”