New North Carolina bill would require UNC, NC State to exit ACC if state is boycotted again

ByAndrea Adelson ESPN logo
Thursday, April 13, 2017

North Carolina legislators filed a bill this week that would require North Carolina and NC State to withdraw from the ACC should the conference decide to boycott the state again.

Last year, the ACC decided to pull its neutral-site championship games and tournaments out of North Carolina because of House Bill 2, the controversial law that limited legal protections for the LGBTQ community.

In March, the North Carolina legislature passed a measure that repealed House Bill 2. As a result, the ACC said the football championship game would return to Charlotte, North Carolina, and all other neutral-site championships that had existing contracts would return as well, beginning with the 2017-18 calendar.

But several North Carolina legislators were unhappy with the initial decision the ACC Council of Presidents made to boycott the state. They have proposed House Bill 728, filed Tuesday, which states any public state school in a conference that boycotts North Carolina would be barred from "extending any grant of media rights to the conference" and "shall immediately provide written notice to the conference that the constituent institution intends to withdraw from the conference no later than when the assignment of its media rights expire, unless the conference immediately ends the boycott."

"Now these conferences, they're going to have to think twice about doing a boycott, especially for something that's as out of their core mission as they did trying to influence legislation of the General Assembly," said Rep. Mark Brody, one of the primary sponsors of the bill. "If they do it again, now they'll know there will be a price to pay."

Brody said he did not know whether University of North Carolina and NC State officials were consulted before the bill was filed, referring the question to lead sponsor Bert Jones. Jones did not respond to a request for comment.

NC State said it would have no comment at this time.

The ACC and UNC also did not respond to requests for comment from ESPN, but ACC commissioner John Swofford spoke to local television reporters during the ACC postgraduate scholarship luncheon Wednesday in Greensboro, N.C.

"I would expect NC State and the University of North Carolina as founding members of the ACC to be in the ACC for many, many years to come," Swofford said.

"I don't think the schools are talking about pulling out by any stretch of the imagination. Our conference is going to act in ways that our council of presidents deems are appropriate in terms of its values and that's how the league will be run. that's how the league has always been run and will be in the future. I think you'll see the ACC at 15 strong for many, many years to come."

As for how a move like this would impact two founding members of the ACC, Brody said, "I'm sure there's a number of conferences that would love to take North Carolina schools as well as the national champion basketball team, so [ACC presidents] need to think twice before they do this again."

The bill now moves to the House Rules Committee. If it passes that, it would go to a full vote before the House of Representatives. Any legislation that passes the House on or before April 27 moves on to the Senate. "If it doesn't make it by then, the bill is basically dead," Brody said. "If it makes it, then it goes on to the Senate and it continues on until whatever finality it will reach."

Brody said he would have a better idea about the bill's fate next week.

"I can't give you an indication other than I think it's going to get a lot of public support as well as legislative support, but that's my opinion and I can't speak for anybody else," Brody said. "I'm hoping it should pass, but we won't know that yet."