BRADENTON, Fla. – The NCAA said Tuesday that its games can return to the North Carolina after the recent repeal of a law seen as discriminatory to gays and transgender people.
The decision was announced just hours after the University of North Carolina won its sixth NCAA basketball championship Monday night, beating Gonzaga 71-65.
North Carolina's recent repeal of House Bill 2 – a measure enacted a year ago – "minimally achieved a situation where we believe NCAA championships may be conducted in a nondiscriminatory environment," the National Collegiate Athletic Association said in a statement.
The NCAA's ruling was in response to the state adopting House Bill 142 on Thursday, repealing HB2 - the state law that prohibited local governments from adopting anti-discrimination ordinances and requiring transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds with the sex on their birth certificate.
"Last week's compromise [bill] was an important step forward for our state," Gov. Roy Cooper said Tuesday. "While more work remains to be done, it's good news that the NCAA will be returning to North Carolina."
Cooper reached a deal with the Republican-led Legislature to repeal HB2 after the NCAA set a March 30 deadline for the state to change the law or continue to be excluded from hosting post-season games for the next five years. The NCAA is currently selecting sites for those games.
HB142, however, was immediately criticized after its adoption by various groups because it continues to prohibit local governments from adopting nondiscrimination regulations until December 2020, which is after the next gubernatorial election.
It also leaves the regulation of "multi-occupancy" restrooms to the state.
Cooper said Tuesday that he will continue to "fight for statewide antidiscrimination protections for LGBT North Carolinians."
HB2, the so-called bathroom bill, brought North Carolina a year of turmoil during which businesses pulled plans for new and expansion projects, high-profile entertainers cancelled concerts, and sports events were removed from the state.
An Associated Press study released March 27 said that the law limiting LGBT protections would cost the state $3.76 billion in lost business over the next 12 years.
Investment firms and public pension managers also called for North Carolina to repeal HB2, which they saw as a "troubling financial implication" for investments in a triple-A rated state.
HB2 was also seen as a major reason why Cooper unseated incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory in November.