North Carolina GOP Blasts NCAA's Decision To Pull Championships
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
There's been a ton of reaction in North Carolina after the NCAA yanked all post-season tournaments out of the state. The college governing board is relocating a series of sporting events due to a controversial state law known as House Bill 2. It limits protections for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Jeff Tiberii of member station WUNC reports on the latest economic blow to North Carolina since the law took effect.
JEFF TIBERII, BYLINE: College basketball is ingrained in the culture down here. Many adults can recall teachers rolling televisions into classrooms to watch March Madness games during their childhood. It seems just about everyone has a passionate interest.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
WOODY DURHAM: It's all over. The Tar Heels are the Atlantic Coast Conference champions. Carolina has beaten Duke.
TIBERII: Now for the first time since 1985, no post-season collegiate men's basketball will take place in North Carolina.
HENRI FOURRIER: A kick in the gut.
TIBERII: That's Henri Fourrier. He's president of the Greensboro Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
FOURRIER: Think we all knew this was coming, but somehow I found myself in denial and hopeful that it wasn't going to happen.
TIBERII: What good economically has come out of House Bill 2?
FOURRIER: Nothing that I can put my arms around.
TIBERII: According to the Visitors Bureau, the removal of these games is an economic loss of $14-and-a-half million adding to a growing statewide tally in excess of several hundred million dollars. Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan says it goes beyond money.
NANCY VAUGHAN: Marketing like that when you see these events on television - you can't buy that type of advertising. It is a source of pride to our community. It is part of our culture, and it would be a shame for that to be taken away for the next few years.
TIBERII: The NCAA has kept sports championships out of states before. It had a long ban on events being held in South Carolina because the Confederate flag used to fly on the state capitol grounds. The NCAA cited the discriminatory nature of House Bill 2 which requires people to use the bathroom corresponding to the sex listed on their birth certificate as to why it relocated all post-season events from North Carolina in the next year.
The NCAA and Governor Pat McCrory did not return phone calls for comment, but in a statement, Governor McCrory said this is an issue for the courts to decide, not the NCAA.
Republican Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest defended the law today. He says the economic impact is a concern, but the bigger issues are safety and partisan bickering which the NCAA shouldn't be involved in.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
DAN FOREST: So this is kind of the way politics works, you know? If it wasn't this, it would be another issue. So certainly the frustration, if there is any, would be on getting the truth out.
TIBERII: Since the law took effect, several businesses, including Pay-Pal, have scaled back large expansion plans. Bruce Springsteen canceled a concert, and the NBA took its All-Star Game to New Orleans. Now the Atlantic Coast Conference has to decide if it will hold future tournaments in its home state. And for many in this basketball-crazed region, the loss of college hoops could sting the most. For NPR News, I'm Jeff Tiberii in Durham, N.C. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.