The NCAA’s announcement comes after the passage of House Bill 142, a partial repeal of House Bill 2, last month.
The Greensboro Coliseum, one of over 3,000 bid submissions from NCAA member schools, will host the first- and second-round men’s basketball tournament games in 2020. The venue has hosted 63 NCAA men’s tournament games — the fifth most in tournament history – the NCAA said in a Tuesday press release.
“(This) will mark the first time since 2012 that tournament games have been played in that venue,” the press release said.
The PNC Arena in Raleigh was also chosen to host the first two rounds of the 2021 men’s basketball tournaments, among other NCAA championship events.
N.C. State said in a press release it will host six future NCAA competitions, including the 2020 and 2022 women’s gymnastics regionals. The university will also host the women’s swimming and diving championship, in collaboration with the Greensboro Sports Commission, in 2021.
UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham said he appreciates what the return of championship events could mean economically for communities in North Carolina.
“We are happy for our students that they will again be able to compete at the highest level in the postseason here in our home state,” Cunningham said in a statement.
UNC-system President Margaret Spellings said the state eagerly awaits the return of championship events.
“These events are great opportunities to showcase remarkable student-athletes, provide an arena for fans to celebrate our state’s proud tradition of collegiate sports and spur economic activity across our communities and the state,” Spellings said in a statement. “And we continue to applaud our elected leaders for recent efforts to make this opportunity possible.”
But the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina — among other LGBTQ advocacy groups — criticized the decision to permit the state to host events.
“When the NCAA originally withdrew events from North Carolina, they did so because they claimed to care about ‘fairness and inclusion’ for college athletes and fans,” said James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s LGBT and HIV Project, in a statement from the ACLU of North Carolina. “It’s a shame to see that those concerns have already fallen by the wayside.”
The ACLU said it has filed public records requests with state universities and cities to determine how they will ensure the provision of nondiscriminatory environments for LGBTQ people if selected to host NCAA events.
“Thus far, none of the cities or universities selected today by the NCAA have responded,” the press release said.
The Human Rights Campaign said it has submitted Freedom of Information Act requests to state universities for materials related to the events, as well.
“By rewarding North Carolina with championship games, the NCAA has undermined its credibility and is sending a dangerous message to lawmakers across the country who are targeting LGBTQ people with discriminatory state legislation,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC senior vice president for policy and political affairs.