Citing the actions taken this year by North Carolina concerning the rights of LGBTQ individuals, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announced Tuesday that it will relocate all seven of its championship events from the state during the 2016-2017 academic year.
The NCAA Board of Governors made its decision Monday, emphasizing that the organization’s championships and events “must promote an inclusive atmosphere for all college athletes, coaches, administrators, and fans,” an NCAA press released said. The board explained its decision, stating that North Carolina state laws make it difficult to guarantee that host communities can help deliver on the NCAA’s commitment to inclusion if events are held in the state.
“Fairness is about more than the opportunity to participate in college sports, or even compete for championships,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement. “We believe in providing a safe and respectful environment at our events and are committed to providing the best experience possible for college athletes, fans, and everyone taking part in our championships.”
To support its decision, the NCAA outlined four factors that it claims indicate a different dynamic in the state:
• North Carolina laws invalidate any local law that treats sexual orientation as a protected class or has a purpose to prevent discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individuals.
• North Carolina has the only statewide law that makes it unlawful to use a restroom different from the gender on one’s birth certificate, regardless of gender identity.
• North Carolina law provides legal protections for government officials to refuse services to the LGBT community.
• Five states, plus numerous cities, prohibit travel to North Carolina for public employees and representatives of public institutions, which could include student-athletes and campus athletics staff; these states are New York, Minnesota, Washington, Vermont, and Connecticut.
“The NCAA Constitution clearly states our values of inclusion and gender equity, along with the membership’s expectation that we as the Board of Governors protect those values for all,” Susquehanna University President Jay Lemons, vice chair of the NCAA Board of Governors and chair of the ad hoc committee on diversity and inclusion, said in a statement. “Our membership comprises many different types of schools — public, private, secular, faith-based — and we believe this action appropriately reflects the collective will of that diverse group.”
According to Emmert, new locations for these seven events — ranging from women’s soccer and lacrosse to men’s basketball and baseball across all three divisions — will be determined soon.
Based on a directive from the NCAA Board of Governors, cities interested in hosting an NCAA championship completed a questionnaire over the summer that required them to provide information about any local anti-discrimination laws, provisions for refusal of services, and other facility-specific information. A group of representatives from NCAA schools will continue to evaluate these responses to determine which locations will be allowed to host future events. Decisions will be announced next year.