NCAA tourney pulled from N.C. over restroom bill

GREENSBORO, N.C. (BP) -- North Carolina's pro-family leaders are decrying the NCAA's decision to pull seven championship athletic events from the state during the 2016-17 academic year in response to a state law requiring individuals at public agencies to use restrooms corresponding to their biological sex.

"There is an expectation of privacy when women and children go into the shower or locker room, and it's more than an expectation -- it's a right," Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the North Carolina Values Coalition, said in a statement. "And our elected officials have a duty to protect that right. The NCAA is punishing the state of North Carolina because it dares to stand up for the commonsense notion that everyone has a right to privacy, decency and safety in bathrooms, showers and locker rooms."

The law in question, known as House Bill 2, also institutes a statewide nondiscrimination law that does not include protections based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression -- another provision criticized by the NCAA.

The most high-profile events affected by the NCAA's Sept. 12 announcement are first- and second-round Division I Men's Basketball Championship games slated for March 17 and 19 in Greensboro.

Other sports affected include Division I women's soccer, Division III men's and women's soccer, Division I women's golf, Division III men's and women's tennis, Division I women's lacrosse and Division II baseball.

The NCAA did not announce where the moved championship events would be played, the Raleigh News & Observer reported.

In publicizing its decision, the NCAA alleged in a statement, "North Carolina law provides legal protections for government officials to refuse services to the [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] community."

NCAA President Mark Emmert said, "Fairness is about more than the opportunity to participate in college sports, or even compete for championships. We believe in providing a safe and respectful environment at our events and are committed to providing the best experience possible for college athletes, fans and everyone taking part in our championships."

Fitzgerald, a trustee of Southern Baptists' Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, called the NCAA hypocritical.

"The NCAA is guilty of extreme hypocrisy," Fitzgerald said. "While it bullies the people of North Carolina to allow boys in the girls' locker rooms, showers and bathrooms, it prohibits boys from playing on the girls' sports teams. Twenty-four states have sued the federal government over the very mandate that the NCAA is now trying to force on the people of North Carolina."

The NCAA has not announced the cancellation of first- and second-round Men's Basketball Championship games scheduled for Charlotte in 2018.

In related news, the NBA announced in July it would move its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte to New Orleans.

David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention's news service. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally.
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