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If North Carolina Doesn’t Repeal Its ‘Bathroom Bill’, The NCAA Will Deny The State March Madness Games

Strangely, the college basketball implications could catalyze change more than the civil rights ones

With Duke, North Carolina, and NC State all logging time as basketball powerhouses and champions in the past few decades, college basketball has entrenched itself as a way of life for many North Carolinians. But unless the state legislature changes its politics, the NCAA has conveyed that it’s willing to cut the state out of college’s biggest games altogether for at least six years.

The N.C. Sports Association recently sent a letter to the North Carolina General Assembly (the state’s legislators) letting them know that if House Bill 2, the notorious “bathroom bill” banning people who identify as one gender or the other from using a bathroom of their choosing, isn’t repealed, the NCAA will keep all NCAA Tournament games outside of North Carolina until at least 2022. The “bathroom bill” also carved out LGBT individuals from the state’s anti-discrimination laws.

Here’s the letter in full:

The move wouldn’t bar North Carolina teams from competing in the tournament but would bar any North Carolina school, arena, or city from hosting the high-profile matchups known better as March Madness.

The NCAA has been very vocal and proactive on this front, having already pulled the following seven events from the state in response to the controversial bill.

(List via Deadspin)

  • 2016 Division I Women’s Soccer Championship, College Cup (Cary), Dec. 2 and 4.
  • 2016 Division III Men’s and Women’s Soccer Championships (Greensboro), Dec. 2 and 3.
  • 2017 Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, first/second rounds (Greensboro), March 17 and 19.
  • 2017 Division I Women’s Golf Championships, regional (Greenville), May 8-10.
  • 2017 Division III Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships (Cary), May 22-27.
  • 2017 Division I Women’s Lacrosse Championship (Cary), May 26 and 28.
  • 2017 Division II Baseball Championship (Cary), May 27-June 3.

As you can see, the NCAA is pulling events and championships from other sports as well, but the real impact will be felt from the absence of NCAA basketball tournament games.

However, it might not come to that.

Senate Bill 25, a full repeal of House Bill 2, was proposed last week in the face of almost a year of intense public and civic pressure. Should the bill pass (which is no certainty), then House Bill 2 would essentially be off the books, and the state could conduct business as usual with the NCAA and other sports bodies that have pulled their business from the state.

In the meantime, not only will the proponents of HB2 continue to deal with legions of civically-minded dissenters, but now North Carolina’s basketball fans, whose wrath might just be enough to effect change regarding this divisive piece of legislation.

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