Just days after the NCAA announced it would no longer hold NCAA championships and tournaments in the state of North Carolina due to the state’s controversial bathroom laws, the ACC has done the same. The ACC announced today it will begin finding new host sites for conference championship events for the 2016-2017 academic year, including football, women’s basketball and baseball and more.
The ACC will still allow championship events to be held on campus residing on university campuses in North Carolina, but will no longer hold championship events on neutral grounds in the state until a change is made to the controversial bathroom transgender laws.
“As members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, the ACC Council of Presidents reaffirmed our collective commitment to uphold the values of equality, diversity, inclusion and non-discrimination,” a statement from the ACC Council of Presidents said. “Every one of our 15 universities is strongly committed to these values and therefore, we will continue to host ACC Championships at campus sites. 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.”
The ACC leaving North Carolina may be a bigger deal than the NCAA’s previous statement because the conference is so entrenched in the state of North Carolina. Aside from having member institutions like North Carolina, Duke, NC State, and Wake Forest, the ACC has established a stronghold as a conference in the state. The ACC football championship game has been played in Charlotte every year since 2010. The ACC is scheduled to host its championship game in Charlotte through 2019.
The men’s basketball tournament may not be in jeopardy this season, as it is currently scheduled to be played in Brooklyn this upcoming basketball season, but the ACC in Greensboro has been a fixture since the 1970s with a season in another location here and there. The loss of the ACC in North Carolina sends a resounding message about the controversy of the state’s transgender bathroom laws.
“The ACC Council of Presidents made it clear that the core values of this league are of the utmost importance, and the opposition to any form of discrimination is paramount,” ACC commissioner John Swofford said in a released 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. Hopefully, there will be opportunities beyond 2016-17 for North Carolina neutral sites to be awarded championships.”
So, where will the ACC go now? That remains an open question. For football, the ACC has some options to try and work with. Atlanta would be nice, but is probably not ideal given the city is already hosting the SEC Championship Game. A doubleheader for the ACC and SEC championships in Atlanta would be wild, but probably not feasible on a whim.
Jacksonville has hosted the ACC title game before, but the NFL’s Jaguars are home that weekend so that is probably enough to squash that possibility. Miami and Tampa could potentially work with the Dolphins and Bucs on the road. Orlando would seem to be in the running, but that would require shoving two high school state championship games aside.
Odds are the ACC will find a site to play their conference championship game, even if it is not the ideal locale on short notice, even if that means resorting to playing the game on an ACC campus for one year. Fidning host sites for the other sports should be less of a concern, although no easy task for those responsible for scheduling such things. What needs to be known is whether this will be a one-year deal or if the ACC will stay outside the state for as long as the state sticks to the bathroom rule.