In a move that mirrors the NCAA’s decision to pull championship events from North Carolina, the Atlantic Coast Conference says it is relocating all upcoming major championships, citing the state’s HB2 law that limits civil rights protections for LGBT people.
With the move, the Greensboro, N.C.-based ACC is taking its marquee events out of the state in which it was founded back in the 1950s.
The decision covers eight neutral-site championships, from women’s soccer to swimming and diving and from football to golf and baseball. It does not affect sports whose conference titles are decided on schools’ home turf.
On Monday, the NCAA said it will relocate seven championships that were scheduled to be held in North Carolina during the current school year — a decision that state Republicans sharply criticized.
“Our women and girls in the state of North Carolina are not for sale,” Lt. Gov. Dan Forest told reporters. “They’re not for sale to Hollywood, to any concert venue, to the NBA or the NCAA. The protection and safety and security of women and girls in North Carolina is our utmost importance.”
That decision followed the NBA’s move earlier this summer to take the 2017 NBA All-Star game away from Charlotte.
Saying that its 15 universities are committed to values of “equality, diversity, inclusion and non-discrimination,” the ACC’s council of presidents said Wednesday, “We believe North Carolina House Bill 2 is inconsistent with these values, and as a result, we will relocate all neutral site championships for the 2016-17 academic year.”
New locations for the championships will be announced later, the conference says.
“Today’s decision is one of principle,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said, “and while this decision is the right one, we recognize there will be individuals and communities that are supportive of our values as well as our championship sites that will be negatively affected.”
Swofford added that he hopes there will be more chances to award the ACC’s championships to North Carolina sites after the current school year is over.