Nothstine: Accountability for NCAA, ACC on H.B. 2?

Nothing has quite showcased the tremendous power of the NCAA like the H.B. 2 brouhaha. Of course, if you’re college sports team has ever been charged with wrongdoing, you know there is little in the way of oversight or accountability. For the most part, schools — and by extension the fans —must accept the NCAA decrees and throw themselves on the mercy of the collegiate governing body for leniency. Many North Carolinians would have it no other way when it comes to the NCAA and the ACC removing championship games from the state over H.B. 2.Countering the roll over and cry “uncle” strategy is Rep. Mark Brody of Monroe. Brody announced Monday on Facebook that he is filing the “Athletic Association Accountability Act.” Brody described the legislation as “an act to determine whether the NCAA and the ACC have violated their tax-exempt status by engaging in political or lobbying activities.” Since tax-exempt status is handled at the federal level, the proposed legislation grants authority to the state Senate leader and Speaker of the House to file a complaint with the Department of the Treasury and Internal Revenue Service.It seems unlikely that the federal government would get involved in pulling the tax-exempt status of two behemoths like the NCAA and ACC. And if it did, the test is exceedingly high for having exemptions revoked. The IRS offers this advice on its website under the headline “How to lose your 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status (without really trying)”: “While a 501(c)(3) organization is allowed to do some lobbying, too much can hurt its tax-exempt status. Its lobbying activities cannot be more than an insubstantial part of its overall activities.”But perhaps Brody is offering more than just red meat for his constituency and supporters. The real teeth from Brody’s bill might be the transparency aspect. The bill may empower the legislature to find out the way North Carolina college or university presidents are voting in meetings, supposedly like the one where the chancellors at NC State and UNC may have voted along with most of their colleagues to remove games from the state.After Brody announced he was filing his legislation, he was lauded, and skewered, by residents across North Carolina. Some called him a hero or applauded his efforts, while others called him a “bigot,” “homophobic tool” or an “intolerant redneck Christian.” Some names are not suitable for print.But there is a larger point, and that is that Brody and his allies have every right to make the case in offering solutions to fight back against what he perceives, and rightly so, to be economic bullying by the NCAA and ACC. The NCAA has instigated boycotts of other states, notably South Carolina, for once flying the Confederate battle flag on state property and the state of Mississippi for having part of the same flag depicted in the upper corner of its official flag. But this time, there is more than a little hypocrisy. Even the NCAA concedes that transitioning male-to-female athletes can’t currently compete on women’s team.While it’s unlikely Brody will end up getting what he wants, those two organizations can’t rush to fuel the politicizing of an issue and not expect to receive some blowback. After all, they enthusiastically leapt head first into the debate. And with Gov. Roy Cooper clearly determined to keep H.B. 2 in the spotlight following his State of the State address, while scuttling compromises, striking back against the bullies will only intensify.Ray Nothstine is a member of the North State Journal’s editorial board, separate from the news staff. Unlike other newspapers, the North State Journal does not publish unsigned editorials; the author or authors of every editorial, letter, op-ed, and column is prominently displayed. To submit a letter or op-ed, see our submission guidelines.