As you know already, the ACC (and NCAA) moved neutral-site postseason games from the state of North Carolina last year in the wake of the state passing HB2. After rolling back select portions of the bill, which has been criticized as discriminatory toward the transgender community, the conference (and NCAA) elected to once again consider the state for championship sites.
While businesses like the NCAA and ACC (and NBA, along with other enterprises) moving away from the state all create financial hardships for North Carolina, only one of those entities -- the ACC -- has its headquarters there. The ACC has called Greensboro home since its founding in 1953.
So it makes sense that North Carolina would take special exception to any further boycott, or threat of boycotts, by the conference in the future. With that in mind, this proposed bill appeared this week:
As Fox 8’s Alex Rose points out, the lawmakers sponsoring the bill propose that UNC and NC State would be pulled from the ACC immediately in the case of future boycotts/action against hte state. Duke and Wake Forest are also North Carolina schools and founding members of the league, but as private institutions, their actions can’t be dictated by the state they preside in. UNC and NC State’s can, however.
The above is the “news” part of all of this. What’s below is my own opinion on the matter, and one that’s echoed in some form, by many on the TNIAAM staff. Despite these happenings being several states away in NC, we are in the ACC, so these sorts of things do affect us, even if we’re choosing to #SticktoSports around here.
The ACC has made its stance on this matter clear, from its initial statement about why it elected to move the postseason games in the first place. They were late to move on that compared to the NCAA and NBA. Sean called them “passive resisters” at the time, and it’s a label that still applies, especially after they moved the events back (the same goes for the NBA and NCAA, who also elected to jump right back into NC after HB2 was only sort of “repealed”).
But nonetheless, the conference did say it wanted to protect its student-athletes (and students and fans) by relocating the games. Players and coaches in the conference joined the call for repeal afterward. It’s obvious that the ACC, and the public institutions the state’s looking to control here (UNC and NC State) are against HB2. Yet the state legislature is trying to force them to agree with a potential policy walk-back before it even happens. Meanwhile, the cities of Charlotte and Raleigh (and Chapel Hill) are all against the policy.
This has become common for North Carolina’s executive branch and legislature to commit itself to vast overreach and inaction when faced with potential (even if not yet realized) opposition.
Former governor Pat McCrory purposefully caused a delay despite losing to Democrat Roy Cooper in November’s election. Just yesterday, the North Carolina House of Representatives (the same one pushing this UNC/NC State bill) introduced a bill to make same-sex marriage illegal. The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that same-sex marriage was legal nationwide.
NC has said that latter bill’s dead already, but that’s not the point. These things being introduced at all on the North Carolina House floor -- the same-sex marriage ban, the UNC/NC State idea -- are wastes of time, resources and dollars for that state (one that has much larger problems with regard to education and infrastructure to solve).
Again, UNC and NC State aren’t going anywhere, even if the ACC does decide to boycott their home state once again. But maybe, just like the ACC Tournament of late, it’s time for the conference to find a new home. That may upset locals and conference purists, but if the state is proposing to cull dissent with nuclear options like immediate removal of teams, that doesn’t really seem like a place the conference wants to be anymore.
You look around at the cities and markets in the ACC already, and there are tons of opportunities to grow and expand in the coming years. North Carolina can be part of that solution if it chooses to be. But right now, it’s becoming more and more of a hurdle toward progress -- for the ACC, and more importantly, its states’ residents.