NCAA set to pick title sites, could leave North Carolina out

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The NCAA will start deciding on locations for its upcoming championships next week and has indicated it will leave North Carolina out of that process if the state hasn’t changed a law that limits LGBT rights by that time.

In a statement Thursday, exactly one year to the day after the law was passed, the sports organization said its committees will begin picking championship sites for 2018-22 and will announce those decisions April 18. The statement also noted that “once the sites are selected by the committee, those decisions are final.”

The NCAA stated its position has not changed since last fall, when it pulled seven championship events from the state because of the law known as HB2.

The law requires transgender people to use restrooms at schools and government buildings corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates. It also excludes gender identity and sexual orientation from local and statewide antidiscrimination protections.

Republican legislators approved the bill while Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper wants the law fully repealed. A proposed repeal deal failed in December at the legislature.

Greensboro was scheduled to host first- and second-round games in the men’s NCAA Tournament last weekend, but those games were relocated to Greenville, South Carolina. Playing before what effectively was a home crowd, seventh-seeded South Carolina upset second-seeded Duke on Sunday night.

Charlotte is scheduled to host opening-weekend games next year, and the North Carolina Sports Association has said more than 130 bids have been submitted to the NCAA, estimating more than $250 million in potential economic impact.

The law also led the Atlantic Coast Conference to pull its neutral-site championships out of its home state for this academic year, moving its football championship game to Orlando, Florida, and its women’s basketball tournament to Conway, South Carolina. This year’s NBA All-Star game was moved from Charlotte to New Orleans, and some businesses halted expansions and musicians canceled concerts in the state.

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