NC again gets NCAA events, but some criticize decision

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The NCAA is granting championship event bids to NC in the wake of the HB2 repeal. But not all are happy.

It appears the repeal of HB2 has paid off for North Carolina. The NCAA says the state will get part of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship events through 2022.

The list of events included men's basketball tournament opening-weekend games in Greensboro in 2020 and Raleigh in 2021, as well as a women's basketball tournament regional in Greensboro in 2019. In addition, the College Cup Division I championship rounds for men's soccer and women's soccer will alternate years in Cary from 2018-21, and the Division I women's field hockey championship will be held in Winston-Salem in 2019.


The NCAA said it got more than 3,000 bid submissions from NCAA member schools, conferences, sports commissions and cities to host events.

North Carolina was put back in the running after the state rolled back a law that limited protections for LGBT people.

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In total, North Carolina cities and universities submitted 133 bids to host NCAA events, with an estimated economic impact of $250 million.

WATCH: Jonah Kaplan's 6 p.m. report on NCAA decisions and impact on Cary
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The NCAA announced that North Carolina has been awarded 26 events in the wake of the HB2 repeal.

Cary leaders said they are excited to have soccer.

"We are pleased to learn that Cary has once again been selected to host NCAA championships. Cary's selection is a testament to our dedication to being one of the premier host communities for amateur and collegiate athletics. We are certain our venues, hailed as some of the finest in the nation, will continue to provide an exceptional experience for NCAA athletes and fans," offered Mayor Harold Weinbrecht.


The NCAA, the governing body of collegiate sports, announced earlier this month that its Board of Governors had reviewed moves to repeal the "bathroom bill" and replace it with a compromise law. The NCAA offered a lukewarm endorsement, saying the new law "meets the minimal NCAA requirements" while expressing concerns about its provisions.

The NCAA statement said a majority of the board "reluctantly voted" to allow for consideration of bids from North Carolina during current deliberations for sites running through 2022. Events for the 2017-18 season that have already been awarded to the state, such as opening-weekend men's basketball tournament games in Charlotte will remain in place.


"...this new law has minimally achieved a situation where we believe NCAA championships may be conducted in a nondiscriminatory environment," the statement said. "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."

The NCAA pulled seven events from the state for the 2016-17 season, including men's basketball tournament games from Greensboro in March, in response to the law. Those games were moved to Greenville, South Carolina, which had been banned from hosting events for years before that was lifted following the removal of a Confederate flag from state capitol grounds in 2015.

Tuesday's announcement to bring games back to North Carolina was met with disappointment by the American Civil Liberties Union.

"North Carolina's new law does nothing to guarantee that LGBT people will be protected from discrimination" said James Esseks, director of the ACLU's LGBT and HIV Project. "When the NCAA originally withdrew events from North Carolina, they did so because they claimed to care about 'fairness and inclusion' for college athletes and fans. It's a shame to see that those concerns have already fallen by the wayside."

Mike Meno with ALCU NC added: "It's disappointing when the NCAA said they weren't going to have events in North Carolina, it was because we couldn't guarantee non-discrimination protections for all people and under state law we still can't do that. In a lot of ways the NCAA is valuing business over people's rights."

Equality NC also expressed dismay at the NCAA's decisions.

"How can LGBTQ people - especially members of the transgender community - be safe and free from discrimination, much less protected against mistreatment or harassment with the sham fake repeal of HB2? The unfortunate reality is they cannot," said Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality NC. "HB142 was a cheap political trick that did nothing to alleviate the concerns the NCAA initially outlined when it pulled games from the Tar Heel state last year, and even adds new forms of discrimination to North Carolina's laws. It is unthinkable that the NCAA would abandon its commitment to LGBTQ fans, players, and administrators by falling for this trick."

The next time the NCAA will host a bidding and selection process will be in 2020.

"We are happy for our students that they will again be able to compete at the highest level in the postseason here in our home state," University of North Carolina Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham said in a statement. "We are also pleased for the people and the communities for whom these championship events mean so much to their livelihoods and economies."

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