North Carolina could be barred from hosting NCAA championship events for the next five years because of the state’s House Bill 2, which advocates maintain is the worst piece of anti-LGBT legislation in the nation.

That decision from the NCAA could reportedly happen in the next week.

That has caused student-athletes in the Atlantic Coast Conference to plead for the repeal of the legislation. Meanwhile, North Carolina lawmakers have introduced multiple measures that would do just that.

“It’s the fourth quarter, and the clock is winding down,” is how student-athletes in leadership positions at UNC, North Carolina State, Duke and Wake Forest started a letter to the state of North Carolina asking for a repeal of HB2, which requires transgender individuals to use the bathroom and shower facility that matches their birth certificate rather than their gender identity. The law also limits nondiscrimination policies localities can enforce, among other provisions.

“Since its passage last year, House Bill 2 has rapidly devolved from political controversy into impractical reality,” the letter continues. “In the past ten months, North Carolina has seen revenue flee the state in the form of billions of dollars in federal funding, employers halting expansion plans, entertainers, artists, and athletic organizations cancelling events, and countless losses of potential jobs, ticket sales, and tax revenues.”

Ezra Baeli-Wang, one of the co-signers, is the president of the ACC’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and the co-president of UNC’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. He spoke with WCHL’s Aaron Keck.

 

Since the law was passed in a one-day special session last March, the NCAA and ACC have removed championship events from North Carolina. The National Basketball Association also moved the All-Star Game, scheduled for this month, from Charlotte to New Orleans over the law.

In addition to the letter from student-athletes, multiple pieces of legislation have been introduced this week to repeal House Bill 2. But it is unclear if any of those bills that have been filed will be acted on. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger has continued to say a clean repeal of the law will not be voted on during the ongoing long legislative session.

If the law is not repealed before the NCAA application review process, the North Carolina boycott could reportedly last through at least the spring of 2022, with the ACC very likely to follow the NCAA’s lead.

The full letter from the student-athletes is below:

It’s the fourth quarter, and the clock is winding down. This is a game we can’t afford to lose.

Since its passage last year, House Bill 2 has rapidly devolved from political controversy into impractical reality. In the past ten months, North Carolina has seen revenue flee the state in the form of billions of dollars in federal funding, employers halting expansion plans, entertainers, artists, and athletic organizations cancelling events, and countless losses of potential jobs, ticket sales, and tax revenues. On Monday, the reality of HB2’s unsustainability grew even clearer with the NCAA’s announcement that unless lawmakers repeal the bill by the end of February, North Carolina will forfeit its eligibility to host championship events in the state through 2022.

The economic impact of this nearly six-year drought is an estimated $250 million—not factoring in the likely eventuality that the ACC would subsequently pull its championships from the state, adhering to the precedent it set earlier this year. The cost of these games goes beyond the deprivation of dollars and cents, beyond the stadiums and seats standing vacant, the officials, vendors, security guards, maintenance and media crews without work—the loss of these games is something more powerful than all of that: it’s a message. It’s a message because that loss is avoidable. To surrender North Carolina’s 133 bids to host championship events over the next six years is a deliberate choice. It’s a choice that prioritizes politics and pride over fans, coaches, students, athletes, families, workers, and communities across North Carolina.

The ACC values equality and inclusion for all, and as students and athletes representing the ACC member institutions of North Carolina, we believe HB2 is counter to those values. All of us have professors, coaches, fans, teammates, friends, and family members who are adversely affected by the language of this bill, but we are calling on lawmakers to recognize that this is no longer a partisan issue of political ideology. This is a matter of survival, of civic responsibility, and seriously considering what it means to serve the interests of North Carolina.

As student-athletes at the University of North Carolina, Duke, North Carolina State, and Wake Forest, we gave everything to earn the privilege of being where we are now. We love our schools and we love this state, and we want what’s best for both; we know the dread and frustration of being down, and we know the elation of making all the right plays, of working as a team, and leading in times of struggle to emerge victorious from the looming shadow of defeat. Please, repeal HB2.

It’s the fourth quarter, and the clock is winding down. This is a game we can’t afford to lose.

Ezra Baeli-Wang
ACC Student-Athlete Advisory Committee President
UNC Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Co-President

Chris Taylor
Duke Student-Athlete Advisory Committee President

Gabi McDermott
NC State Student-Athlete Advisory Committee President

Tanner Owen
Wake Forest Student-Athlete Advisory Committee President