The NCAA, as the governing body of collegiate athletics in the United States, has an obligation to protect the interests of all those who wish to compete in sports.
That is why in 2010 the NCAA Executive Committee established an Office of Inclusion to help make sure the NCAA remained committed to diversity, inclusion and gender equity among its student-athletes, coaches and administrators.
That was a step in helping the NCAA make sure transgender student-athletes were afforded the same competitive opportunities as all other competitors.
Legislators in North Carolina clearly are not as open-minded. In March, Gov. Pat McCrory passed a law that makes it illegal for anyone in the state to use a public restroom that does not match the gender they were assigned at birth.
The law has significant ramifications for transgender people, whose internal psychological identification as a boy/man or girl/woman does not match the person’s sex at birth.
The legislation also continues to take a toll on North Carolina’s reputation and its financial bottom line.
This summer, several prominent music acts including Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam canceled performances scheduled in North Carolina to protest the anti-LGBT bathroom law. The National Basketball Association also moved its 2017 All-Star Game from North Carolina to New Orleans because of the law.
On Monday, the NCAA put an even bigger hurt on the state’s income-generating potential and on its reputation. The NCAA announced that is is pulling seven collegiate athletic postseason events from North Carolina.
Most notably, the NCAA will not conduct first- and second-round men’s basketball tournament games that had been scheduled for Greensboro. Other events that won’t be held in North Carolina include Division I women’s soccer, lacrosse and golf tournaments, Division II baseball, and Division III men’s and women’s soccer and tennis.
The NCAA opposed the fact that North Carolina’s state law, the only one of its kind in teh country, overrides local laws addressed at protecting LGBT individuals, and enables government officials to refuse services to the LGBT community.
Several states including New York, Vermont, Washington and Minnesota, have enacted policies that prohibit public employees and representative to travel to North Carolina.
The University at Albany (N.Y.), which competes along with the University of Maine in the America East Conference, previously had canceled a men’s basketball game at Duke, citing the travel restrictions imposed because of the North Carolina law.
Unfortunately, those who are going to lose out because of the NCAA’s recent decision are the fans and business people in North Carolina. Virtually none of them had anything to do with the stupid “bathroom law,” which was the responsibility of state legislators.
Yet the fans will be denied the opportunity to see NCAA postseason events and those businesses that would have benefited from the influx of fans, student-athletes, coaches and officials will instead be shut out.
The NCAA has made a strong statement about its support for the right of all student-athletes to compete in a safe and fair environment, regardless of how unfair it may be for everyone else.
“Historically, the Association has taken steps to ensure its championship environment is consistent with its values,” the NCAA said in Monday’s news release announcing the decision. “The NCAA bans championships in states where governments display the Confederate battle flag or authorize sports wagering and at schools that use hostile and abusive Native American imagery.”