Duke, UNC ADs state support of NCAA in North Carolina tourney ban
Bubba Cunningham and Kevin White support the NCAA decision, even if it didn't benefit their schools
The two schools with the most to lose in the NCAA's decision to ban the NCAA Tournament from being held in North Carolina: Duke and UNC. They're top-five programs in college basketball, and given that the NCAA Tournament is held almost every year inside state borders, UNC and Duke normally reap the benefits of a great record and thus play close to home and with many a fan in the building.
Yet the athletic directors at those two schools made public statements on Monday night, just hours after the NCAA's decision rocked the sports world, that endorsed the NCAA pulling its biggest event out of their state.
Duke AD Kevin White was public first, stating, "We agree with the NCAA's decision. Our position has been clear on this matter, which is that this legislation is discriminatory, troubling and embarrassing. We deplore any efforts to deprive individuals, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, of legal protections and rights. We will always be committed to diversity and inclusion, and applaud any efforts to ensure that those values are protected and enacted at all times, and in places in the state of North Carolina."
Within minutes, North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham echoed White's comments.
"Carolina Athletics is steadfast in its commitment to fairness, inclusion and ensuring that all who come to our campus for athletics events are welcome. We are disappointed for the people of this great state, the communities that are scheduled to play host to these championship events and to the students who may be denied the opportunity to compete for championships in their home state."
The statements from Cunningham and White strike a much different tone than what the North Carolina GOP's official spokesperson put out on Monday night.
The NCAA taking its men's basketball tournament (in addition to six other NCAA-sanctioned events) out of North Carolina marks the first time since 2013 and just the fourth time this century that the state will not host an NCAA Tournament game in a given year.
As for ACC championships, commissioner John Swofford said there would be discussion on the matter this week among school presidents. While not taking any immediate action on Monday, Swofford left little doubt where he stands on the controversial bill.
"The decision by the NCAA Board of Governors to relocate all current, and not award any future, NCAA Championship sites in the state of North Carolina continues to build upon the negative impact this bill has already had on the state," Swofford's statement said. "HB2 was previously scheduled to be thoroughly discussed at this week's ACC Council of Presidents meeting, so it would be premature to make any decisions or announcements regarding ACC Championships until our membership is able to discuss. The league's longstanding commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion will continue to be a central theme to our discussions.
"On a personal note, it's time for this bill to be repealed as it's counter to basic human rights."
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