Sarah Kate Purnell
In September 2016, the Atlantic Coast Conference announced that they would be pulling all neutral site championship events from North Carolina for the 2016-17 seasons, in response to HB2.
In moving their events elsewhere, seven ACC events that were to be held in NC were affected. Additionally, moving the sporting events decreased NC economic value.
“The decision to move the neutral site championships out of North Carolina while House Bill 2 remains law was not an easy one, but it is consistent with the shared values of inclusion and non-discrimination at all of our institutions,” Clemson University president and council chairman James P. Clements said in a September 2016 statement to The Fayetteville Observer.
Among the events moved was the ACC championship football event, which has been held at the Bank of America Stadium for the past six seasons in Charlotte.
In the NC Panther’s official statement through Twitter, the team expressed their disappointment for the ACC’s decision. However, the team stated their commitment to creating an inclusive environment at BOA Stadium.
“As we stated last summer, after more than 20 years of operations, we undoubtedly have had transgender persons attend events here and, presumably, they have used the restroom of the gender with which they identify,” The Panthers team continued, “Our organization is against discrimination and has a long history of treating all of our patrons at Bank of America Stadium with dignity and respect.”
According to The Fayetteville Observer, Speaker Tim Moore commented on the ACC’s decision stating his disappointment in that NC would be losing these sporting events, but that it was the conference’s choice to host the events wherever they pleased.
On February 22, NC legislators proposed what Republicans claim is a compromise to HB2. The proposed bill, HB186 – which would allow cities to adopt nondiscrimination measures – has received both negative and positive feedback.
Those against HB2 and members of the LGBT+ community claim that HB186 will continue to uphold HB2’s core values. However, the bill has caught the attention of the ACC and may have put NC back on its radar.
“It’s encouraging that a bipartisan effort has been initiated in the North Carolina General Assembly regarding HB2,” Swofford said in a statement quoted USA Today. “If legislation is passed that resets the law as it was prior to HB2, it will present the opportunity to reopen the discussion with the ACC Council of Presidents regarding neutral site conference championships being in the state of North Carolina.”
The LGBT+ community has urged the ACC to stand their grounds for a full repeal of HB2. Those who oppose HB2 state that the proposed law is still discriminatory.
“The ACC must stand for a full repeal of HB2,” said Shane Windmeyer, executive director of LGBT sports organization Campus Pride, told USA Today. “We need to let the ACC Commissioner and ACC schools know that this repeal effort is not a fix at all. It is not a full repeal and still discriminates against transgender people. The ACC, NCAA and others must stand strong for its values of inclusion and diversity of all athletes and sports fans.”
The ACC made the decision to move its sporting events from NC after the NCAA additionally moved their events from the state.