The National Collegiate Athletic Association will once again consider North Carolina as a place to hold tournament events after the repeal and replacement last week of House Bill 2, the NCAA’s Board of Governors has “reluctantly” decided, according to a statement released Tuesday morning.
“This new law has minimally achieved a situation where we believe NCAA championships may be conducted in a nondiscriminatory environment,” the statement said. The governors expressed caution, however, adding that if they “find that our expectations of a discrimination-free environment are not met, we will not hesitate to take necessary action at any time.”
HB2, the controversial “bathroom bill,” did away with some antidiscrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, and forced transgender people to use restrooms and other public facilities consistent with their gender specified at birth. North Carolina lawmakers replaced it last week with legislation that critics on both sides believe is inadequate.
Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina, a Democrat, said that while the legislation had flaws, the deal was a first step. “It’s not a perfect deal, but it repeals House Bill 2 and begins to repair our reputation,” he said.
Several civil-rights groups called on the NCAA last week to oppose the replacement bill. On Tuesday they criticized the NCAA’s decision to allow championships to once again be held in the state. “After drawing a line in the sand and calling for repeal of HB2, the NCAA simply let North Carolina lawmakers off the hook,” they said in a statement.
The NCAA championships that had been scheduled to be held in North Carolina in 2017-18 will continue as planned, the board said. But “any site awarded a championship event in North Carolina or elsewhere [will] be required to submit additional documentation demonstrating how student-athletes and fans will be protected from discrimination.”