2014 ACC Football Championship Game – Photo: Thomson200, via Wikimedia.
Right on the heels of the NCAA’s announcement that it was pulling seven sports championship games from North Carolina — including the first and second rounds of the all-hallowed Men’s Division I Basketball championships — the Atlantic Coast Conference has followed suit. The conference has yanked this year’s football title game from Charlotte, citing the state’s HB 2 law.
The title game, which has been held in Charlotte since 2010, was scheduled for Dec. 3 at Bank of American Stadium. Now, it will be relocated to another state, as will nine other men’s and women’s championships for the 2016-2017 school year that were to be played in North Carolina, including women’s soccer, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, golf, women’s basketball, and baseball.
The ACC Council of Presidents released a statement reaffirming the conference’s “collective commitment to uphold the values of equality, diversity, inclusion and non-discrimination.”
“Every one of our 15 universities is strongly committed to these values and therefore, we will continue to host ACC Championships at campus sites,” the Council said. “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. All locations will be announced in the future from the conference office.”
ACC Commissioner John Swofford, who has previously called for the repeal of HB 2, issued his own statement.
“Today’s decision is one of principle, 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,” he said. “Hopefully, there will be opportunities beyond 2016-17 for North Carolina neutral sites to be awarded championships.”
The decision deals yet another blow to North Carolina’s image and its economy following the passage of HB 2. The local visitor’s bureau in Charlotte estimates that the 2015 ACC championship football game had a total economic impact of $32.4 million, reports The Charlotte Observer
. It also makes the ACC the third major sporting organization to pull championship games from the Tar Heel State, after both the NCAA’s decision earlier this week and the NBA’s decision last month to relocate its 2017 All-Star Game to New Orleans.
“Yesterday it was the NCAA. Last month it was the NBA. Today, the ACC — home conference to many of our beloved teams — will take their marquis events out of North Carolina,” Chris Sgro, the executive director of Equality NC, said in a statement. It has never been more clear than it is right now — HB 2 is hurting our state every minute that it remains law. It’s hurting our people, our reputation, and our economy.
“I’m calling on Pat McCrory today — accept responsibility for the legislation you signed. It’s crystal clear that HB2 is bad for us,” Sgro added. “Stop playing the blame game and clean up this mess you’ve made of our state, because we cannot afford to wait any longer.”