ACC to relocate 2016 football championship from North Carolina due to HB2 law
The ACC announced it would move several neutral-site events, including its football title game
The ACC has now joined the NCAA, NBA and other organizations pulling its official league events out of the state of North Carolina due to concerns over the state's House Bill 2, which is considered by many to be anti-LGBT.
For now, the decision only applies to the 2016-17 academic year but does include the relocation of the 2016 ACC Football Championship Game, scheduled to be held in Charlotte at Bank of America Stadium.
From the ACC Council of Presidents: "As members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, the ACC Council of Presidents reaffirmed our collective commitment to uphold the values of equality, diversity, inclusion and non-discrimination. Every one of our 15 universities is strongly committed to these values and therefore, we will continue to host ACC Championships at campus sites. We believe North Carolina House Bill 2 is inconsistent with these values, and as a result, we will relocate all neutral site championships for the 2016-17 academic year. All locations will be announced in the future from the conference office."
From commissioner John Swofford: "The ACC Council of Presidents made it clear that the core values of this league are of the utmost importance, and the opposition to any form of discrimination is paramount. Today's decision is one of principle, and while this decision is the right one, we recognize there will be individuals and communities that are supportive of our values as well as our championship sites that will be negatively affected. Hopefully, there will be opportunities beyond 2016-17 for North Carolina neutral sites to be awarded championships."
Eight neutral site championship events from the state of North Carolina are affected: women's soccer, football, men's and women's swimming and division, women's basketball, men's and women's tennis, women's golf, men's golf and baseball.
Charlotte's loss of the football championship game is particularly notable coming off a year of record attendance for Clemson-North Carolina in 2015 and a near-guarantee that another playoff contender would be on the field in December.
The current deal between the ACC and Bank of America Stadium for the football championship runs through 2019. As of now, the only game impacted by the move is 2016. The next step, from a football perspective, will be to choose a new spot for December's title tilt. The ACC football championship game started in Jacksonville, Florida, and moved to Tampa before landing in Charlotte, where it has been played since 2010.
The ACC's decision comes just days after the NCAA announced the planned relocation of seven championships due to concerns about the state's bathroom law. The NCAA, which has previously pulled its championships from other states for various reasons, cited four problematic aspects of North Carolina's current laws, including HB2.
"North Carolina has the only statewide law that makes it unlawful to use a restroom different from the gender of one's birth certificate, regardless of gender identity," the Board of Governors stressed in its announcement.
The law, which Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski called "embarrassing," has also led to non-sports cancellations, including concerts featuring Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam. New York and Minnesota are among the states that have mandates against "non-essential" travel to North Carolina. Albany and Vermont have both canceled nonconference sporting in events in the state as well.
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