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ACC & NCAA Moves Bring Disappointment, Disdain

It's an unhappy week for sports promoters in North Carolina. Both the NCAA, on Monday, and the Atlantic Coast Conference, on Wednesday, said they're canceling championships here because of House Bill 2, which limits protections for LGBT people.

The ACC's decision included league's football title game in Charlotte in December, a big disappointment to the Charlotte Sports Foundation.

"We are proud to have helped put on this event over the past five years," executive director Will Webb said in a statement. "We recognize the economic impact of moving the game and its events have on the Charlotte area."

He said the group hopes the ACC Football Championship can return in the future.

The ACC also pulled the women's basketball championship in Greensboro in March, the women's soccer tournament in Cary in November and a list of other events. That's on top of the NCAA's decision to call off national soccer finals in Cary, March Madness basketball games in Greensboro, and more.  

"This is an historically bad week and an unprecedented week in terms of lost business and damage to our reputation and brand as a great state for sporting events," said Scott Dupree, executive director of the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance, which was supposed to host several events.

He's worried other groups might cancel their sporting events, too. There's already talk that

Collegiate athletic programs are among the losers. UNC System president Margaret Spellings said state institutions are welcoming to all and don't discriminate based on sex, sexual orientation or gender identity. "We remain caught in the middle of this issue and welcome a speedy resolution by the court," Spellings said.

Opponents of HB 2 have challenged the law in federal court, and those cases are awaiting review.

For Democrats, the ACC announcement was another chance to call for repealing HB 2. State Senator Jeff Jackson of Charlotte said the debate over whether the law is hurting North Carolina is now over.

"It's very clear, the jury's no longer out, HB 2 is seriously hurting our state economically, and reputationally, and we have to repeal it. We are going to continue to lose business, until we take major action," Jackson said.

Added state Democratic Party Director Kimberly Reynolds: “How much more money and how many more jobs does North Carolina have to lose before Governor McCrory stops pointing fingers and fixes his mistake? It is way past time to repeal this disastrous law.”

The ball is in the governor's court, Democrats said.

"We're all waiting for the governor to make the call and that this is important enough to warrant a special session. Whether or not that's going to happen before the election I highly doubt, even though I feel that's the right thing for him to do," Jackson said.

The legislature isn't scheduled to return to regular session until January (2017).

House speaker Tim Moore, a Republican who helped pass HB 2, said organizations like the ACC and NCAA are entitled to pick where they host events. But he defended the law and the state: "The truth remains that this law was never about and does not promote discrimination.  We will continue to advocate that North Carolina is a great place to live, do business, hold events and to visit."

Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the N.C. Values Coalition, called the ACC and NCAA announcements "an attempt to force the State of North Carolina to sacrifice our children’s safety on the altar of political correctness. "

"Today there are too many politicians willing to abandon their closely held beliefs and principles in the face of adversity. People want leaders who will stand up for what is right. How much is it worth to prevent the sexual assault of one little girl in a public bathroom or locker room?" she asked.