By Stephen Schramm
March Madness won't be coming to North Carolina this season.
The NCAA Board of Governors decided Monday to move the seven championship events it had planned to hold in North Carolina during the 2016-17 academic year out of the state.
The decision stems from the organization's opposition to a state law that critics say limits civil rights protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
Of all of the events the state will lose, the one that stings the most will be the first and second rounds of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's men's basketball tournament scheduled for March 17 and 19 at the Greensboro Coliseum.
With the ACC tournament beginning the first of a two-year stint in Brooklyn, this will mark the first time since 1985 that North Carolina will not host any NCAA or Atlantic Coast Conference tournament games.
"Fairness is about more than the opportunity to participate in college sports or even compete for championships," Mark Emmert, the NCAA president, said in a statement. "We believe in providing a safe and respectful environment at our events and are committed to providing the best experience possible for college athletes, fans and everyone taking part in our championships."
Known as House Bill 2, the law that drew the NCAA's ire was passed in March and limits the ability of local governments to pass anti-discrimination laws pertaining to sexual orientation.
The most discussed portion of the law mandates that transgender people must use public restrooms that correspond with the gender on their birth certificate.
In an interview with USA Today this summer, Duke men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski called the law "embarrassing."
It's already had an impact on Duke's schedule as Albany, a state school originally scheduled to visit Cameron Indoor Stadium on Nov. 12, had to pull out because of a non-essential ban on state-funded travel put in place by New York governor Andrew Cuomo.
Likely to be the top-ranked team in preseason polls, Duke was a heavy favorite to start its NCAA tournament run in Greensboro.
After bringing back several key players from a team that reached last season's NCAA tournament title game, there was a decent chance North Carolina could have ended up there, too.
UNC coach Roy Williams and N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried have voiced displeasure with the law.
"We're disappointed to learn of the NCAA's decision to remove pre-determined championship events from the state of North Carolina," Debbie Yow, the N.C. State athletics director, said in a statement. "We certainly hope there will be resolution in the very near future. N.C. State provides and promotes equal opportunity and non-discrimination to anyone who works, lives, studies, visits or participates in campus events, courses, programs and services."
Earlier this year, the NBA pulled the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte, instead opting to hold it in New Orleans.
The decision will touch more than just basketball.
The NCAA will move December's Division I women's soccer championship from Cary and the Division III men's soccer championship from Greensboro.
The NCAA will move May's Division III men's and women's tennis championships, the Division I women's lacrosse championship and the Division II baseball championship -- all of which were to be held in Cary -- and the Division I women's golf regional scheduled for Greenville.
The move does not affect NCAA championship events in which the site is determined, in part, by the play of the teams.
A baseball team, for instance, that earns the right to host a regional or super regional would still be able to do so.
(c)2016 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.)