03HB2There was big news last week! Carolina again won the national basketball championship, and the North Carolina General Assembly repealed HB2 bathroom bill.

How are those two issues connected? Well, North Carolina basketball — whether you’re talking about UNC or even Duke — has made a bundle of money for the Atlantic Coast Conference over the years. 

However, both the ACC’s and NCAA’s political stance on HB2 has taken a lot of money from North Carolina.

Last September, the ACC’s Council of Presidents secretly voted to move its 2016 and 2017 league championships from North Carolina venues to other states after the General Assembly in March passed HB2. Among those voting were UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt and NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson. The NCAA’s position was in lockstep with the ACC.

The vote by the ACC presidents aimed to punish the Tar Heel state’s General Assembly for passing what it considered a discriminatory law. HB2 negated the City of Charlotte’s ordinance by requiring transgender people using public bathrooms, showers or changing rooms to do so according to their sex on their birth certificates. Charlotte’s ordinance allowed transgender individuals to use those facilities based on the sex they identify with.

There was more attached to the bill, but the bathroom issue rose to the top of the heap and became the lightning rod for social justice advocates.

It’s not the first time a nonprofit, tax-exempt collegiate sports organization has taken a political stance. Until last year, the NCAA boycotted South Carolina because it flew a Confederate battle flag. The flag flies no longer, and this year South Carolina again is in the NCAA’s good graces. It’s where UNC met Arkansas.

But guess what? On April 18, the NCAA decides where it will hold championship events from 2018 through 2022. The ACC Council of Presidents also plans to revisit its position on the matter. So, will the General Assembly’s repeal of HB2 bring back NCAA championship events to North Carolina?

But there’s a problem with HB142, the law that repeals HB2. Both the extreme left and the extreme right don’t like it. The LGBTQ community wants to totally repeal it.

HB142 resets the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act. 

The new law also preempts state agencies and local governments from regulating access to restrooms, showers or changing rooms. The new law also puts a moratorium on local government ordinances that regulate private employment practices and public accommodations. That moratorium expires in December 2020.

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest’s statement about HB142 asked
two questions:

1. If HB2 was right, then why should it be repealed?

2. However, if it was wrong, then why wait until 2020?

He also referred to the NCAA’s boycotting actions as “corporate extortion” from a nonelected, out-of-state, tax-exempt organization.

On the other side is Mayor Jennifer Roberts. Under her leadership, the Charlotte City Council passed the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance. It triggered the General Assembly to pass HB2. The reasoning, according a majority of legislators, was that the Charlotte ordinance overreached its authority under state law.

Roberts reportedly chided fellow Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper for signing HB142 and called it a “false repeal.”

Now, one more crazy thing. The City of Charlotte also released a statement. But its statement differs from that of the mayor. It said the City of Charlotte is pleased with the passage of HB142. The city’s spokeswoman released the statement after checking with the council. 

So, with all the different spins on the repeal of HB2, I wonder how the NCAA and ACC Council of presidents will interpret the new law. And my question remains: how does a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization have so much political clout?

Several North Carolina legislators are asking the same question. In fact, they’ve filed House Bill 328, The Athletic Association Accountability Act. If enacted, the law would require chancellors from publically funded universities or colleges to disclose how they voted. The law also would ask the IRS to investigate whether the ACC and NCAA violated their tax-exempt status by trying to influence laws passed by a legislative authority.

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