Friday, December 15, 2017
Sports

ACC to move its title events out of North Carolina

The Atlantic Coast Conference has followed the NCAA's lead and is removing all its athletic championships from North Carolina over a state law limiting protections for LGBT people.

The ACC Council of Presidents voted Wednesday to relocate the league's championships until North Carolina repeals the law. The decision includes 10 neutral-site championships this academic year, which means relocating the ACC football title game that was scheduled to be played in Charlotte in December.

No announcement was made on where the championship events will be held.

"The decision to move the neutral site championships out of North Carolina while HB2 remains the law was not an easy one," said Clemson president James P. Clements, chairman of the league's council. "But it is consistent with the shared values of inclusion and non-discrimination at all our institutions."

On Monday, the NCAA said it was relocating seven of its championships scheduled to be played in the state, including the men's basketball first- and second-round matchups scheduled for next March in Greensboro.

ACC commissioner John Swofford said after the NCAA's decision that his league would review its next steps.

The law requires transgender people to use restrooms at schools and government buildings corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates. It also excludes gender identity and sexual orientation from local and statewide antidiscrimination protections. HB2 was signed into law this year by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, who has defended it as a commonsense safety and security measure.

Swofford said the presidents' choice was made on principle.

"I think it was the right decision. A difficult one in ways, but an easy one in ways considering the principles involved," he said.

Swofford said identifying replacement venues is in the early stages.

Finding a football stadium that's as ACC-friendly as Charlotte might be difficult. The title game's been played at Bank of America Stadium for the past six seasons with average attendance of 69,641.

In the previous two seasons (2008-09) the game was held at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa and averaged 49,412 spectators.

"We'll do what we need to do," Swofford said. "It's a challenge, our next challenge."

Football's not the only sport affected. The ACC planned to hold 14 of its 21 championship events in North Carolina this academic year, with the majority of those at neutral, off-campus sites, and the others either on the campuses or the home venues of Wake Forest (field hockey), Duke (fencing), North Carolina (softball) and N.C. State (wrestling, cross country).

The ACC decision came the same day the NCAA reopened the bidding process for those championships it pulled from the state.

The NCAA said bids for those events are due Sept. 27 and hopes to decide the new sites by Oct. 7.

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