How nice of them. After a few days of hemming and hawing, the NCAA declared victory and departed the field in the North Carolina bathroom wars. The collegiate athletics organization voted — “reluctantly,” of course — to consider venues in the states for future championship events after a compromise repealed the HB2 law to which they had initially objected:
In a statement Tuesday, the governing body said its Board of Governors had reviewed moves to repeal repealed the so-called “bathroom bill” and replace it with a compromise law. The NCAA said the new law “meets the minimal NCAA requirements” while expressing some concerns about provisions within it.
The statement says a majority of the board “reluctantly voted” to allow for consideration of bids from North Carolina during current deliberations for sites running through 2022.
The NCAA may have had its hand forced by the ACC. Originally the ACC followed the NCAA’s lead in imposing a boycott on North Carolina venues for championships (neither blocked regularly scheduled games at home venues). When the compromise passed, however, the ACC immediately embraced it, leaving the NCAA twisting in the wind.
That may come back to bite them anyway, however. The same groups that pushed the NCAA into the boycott are now angry over their “reluctant” stand-down:
Gay, lesbian and transgender rights groups assailed the replacement bill, which will still prevent localities from enacting new anti-discrimination ordinances for several years. On Tuesday, those groups were quick to condemn the NCAA’s decision to return to North Carolina.
“The NCAA’s decision to backtrack on their vow to protect LGBTQ players, employees and fans is deeply disappointing and puts people at risk,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “After drawing a line in the sand and calling for repeal of HB2, the NCAA simply let North Carolina lawmakers off the hook.”
This may be chalked up to the difficulties in ever pleasing these groups as allies, with some justification. However, the bill itself did present some issues for the NCAA in terms of its credibility on this issue. As noted last week, the new law retains state jurisdiction over the colleges where these events will take place (as well as all publicly-owned facilities), and kept in place the traditional access policies of the status quo ante before Charlotte imposed LGBTQ-friendly access policies on both public and private commercial facilities. The end result, at least until 2020, is that the venues that will compete for these events will have the same policies to which the NCAA objected in HB2. Their recent allies have a case for their allegation of letting the state “off the hook.”
Clearly, though, the NCAA had had enough of this debate, and wanted an escape from the battle between social-justice warriors and the vast majority of sports fans who have begun voting with their feet. Those who fight and run away live to learn not to pick fights in the future, apparently. At least now the NCAA is saved from the embarrassment of having to explain why they’re denying championship events to their newly minted champions of men’s basketball.