HB2 repeal puts ball in NCAAs court for future events

NCAA president Mark Emmert said that he and the members of the NCAAs executive board will meet over the next few days to look over Thursdays General Assembly action and decide whether it goes far enough to allow championship events to return to the stat

Robert Deutsch—USA Today Sports
NCAA president Mark Emmert addresses Thursday's HB2 repeal and the effect it could have on future championship events returning to North Carolina at a pre-Final Four press conference in Phoenix

PHOENIX — North Carolina held up its end of the bargain on Thursday by repealing its controversial bathroom law — better known as H.B. 2 — only hours before a deadline set by the NCAA for awarding its championship sites for the next six years.Now it’s up to the NCAA to decide whether the action taken by the General Assembly meets the criteria it set for bringing back the events pulled out of the state just over a year ago.”The state has, as you’re well aware, just passed a bill and the governor just recently signed a bill repealing H.B. 2 and putting in some other provisions in that law that I don’t need to speak to,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said during his annual pre-Final Four press conference at University of Phoenix Stadium. “The process for us going forward will be as follows: We have worked very hard to accommodate North Carolina’s decision-making process.”Normally we would have started making decisions about site locations actually months ago. We worked with all of our sports committees to be able to extend those decisions as far as we could. We’ve reached a place where they actually need to start making those decisions — they’ve been meeting this week and they’ll be meeting next week as well — because we start losing sites. If you don’t take some sites, you’ll start losing them and then the options start to drift away.”So those committees have been waiting to see whether or not North Carolina was going to change their laws. And then they have to wait and see whether or not the Board of Governors will determine whether or not this bill that was recently passed today is a sufficient change in the law for the board to feel comfortable going back to North Carolina.”The NCAA, following the lead of the NBA and other organizations, announced last Sept. 13 that it had decided to relocate seven championship events — including the first and second rounds of its men’s basketball tournament scheduled for Greensboro — out of the state in response to H.B. 2.It’s a ban that could potentially have lasted six years had the state not barely beaten Thursday’s deadline for future tournament site selections..According to the N.C. Sports Association, state venues have submitted 133 NCAA championship events between 2018 and 2022. Among them are the men’s basketball tournament at PNC Arena, track and field championships at St. Augustine’s, golf championships at NC State, and baseball and softball championships in Cary.Emmert said that North Carolina’s history as a host for such events played a major role in the NCAA’s patience in waiting for H.B. 2 to be repealed.”Everybody loves being in North Carolina for our games,” he said. “It’s a state, obviously, that in many ways is synonymous with college sports. They are great hosts. Nobody made the decision to leave North Carolina casually. It was a very, very difficult decision for the board to make, and I’m sure the next decision will be very difficult as well.”Emmert said that he and the members of the NCAA’s executive board will meet over the next few days to look over Thursday’s General Assembly action and decide whether it goes far enough to allow championship events to return to the state.He gave no indication on which way the board might lean on the matter, adding that he hopes the board will be ready to make an announcement by early next week.”They repealed a bill. H.B. 2 is gone and no longer the law of the land,” Emmert said. “We made clear that absent any change in the law we weren’t going back to North Carolina. They’ve changed the law.”Now the question is does this new bill change the landscape sufficiently that the board’s comfortable in returning to North Carolina. Again, a place everybody likes to go. This isn’t about North Carolina not being a hospitable place for events. It is. But can we conduct them in a way that’s consistent with our values?”