GREENVILLE, S.C. (USA TODAY) — It’s no secret that this weekend’s NCAA tournament games were not supposed to be played here. Originally awarded to Greensboro, N.C., the first and second round games were moved by the NCAA as a result of the state of North Carolina’s controversial House Bill 2.
The law prevents cities and counties from passing protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. And public schools must require bathrooms or locker rooms be designated for use only by people based on their biological sex.
North Carolina is facing the very real possibility of having its championship events pulled for the 2017-18 academic year, too, and due to the timeline of the bidding process process, could very well be unable to host through 2022. The NCAA has said it will not host championship events in the state until HB2 is repealed — and repeal efforts appear to have stagnated.
HB2 was signed into law by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory back in 2016. He was not re-elected in November.
Hall of Fame college basketball coaches Mike Krzyzewski of Duke and Roy Williams of North Carolina reiterated their frustration and disgust with both the law and the lawmakers who won’t repeal it now, depriving a college basketball-obsessed state NCAA and Atlantic Coast Conference championship events.
"I'm very sad, very disappointed about the whole thing, which apparently is something that's really, really hard to change,” Williams said Thursday. "But people in Greenville have been great.”
Krzyzewksi echoed the praise for the Greenville host community before taking more jabs at his home state’s legislature.
"They have the right to host it whether our state is smart enough to have it,” Krzyzewski said. "It shouldn't be a contest of one against another.
"It would be nice if our state got as smart and also would host not just basketball tournaments but concerts and other NCAA events. But maybe we'll get there in the next century, I don't know. We'll see.
"Look, it's a stupid thing. That's my political statement. If I was president or governor I'd get rid of it. And I'd back up my promises. As unusual as that might be. Anyway, I don't want to get too political.”
South Carolina understands all too well what North Carolina is going through right now with HB2. For 14 years, the NCAA prohibited South Carolina from hosting NCAA neutral-site championships — as long as the Confederate flag flew on the capital grounds. That flag came down in July 2015.
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