The National Collegiate Athletic Association on Tuesday formally reversed course and scheduled championship games in North Carolina, returning to the state after previously stripping it of events to protest a law on transgender use of public bathrooms.
Transgender advocates immediately criticized the decision, saying although the bathroom law was repealed last month, North Carolina still discriminated against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and did not deserve to be rewarded.
The controversy started with the March 2016 approval of House Bill 2, which required transgender people to use bathrooms matching the sex on their birth certificate rather than their gender identity. In response, the NCAA disqualified North Carolina from hosting neutral-site championship events for the 2016-17 academic year.
Similar boycotts by other sports organizations, companies and entertainers cost North Carolina hundreds of millions of dollars worth of business. In a basketball-crazed state, losing events such as the NBA all-star game and big NCAA tournament games was also a blow to residents’ pride.
Seeking to win back business, state lawmakers repealed the law on March 30, but they also approved a new measure banning cities from passing their own anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people until 2020, drawing outrage from civil rights advocates.
Rights groups criticized the NCAA for returning to North Carolina while its cities were still banned from passing anti-discrimination laws.
The American Civil Liberties Union called the decision a “shame” and the anti-discrimination group Athlete Ally said it was “deeply concerning.”