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MEAC keeping track championships in N.C. despite HB2

Alert: Bethune Cookman-S.C. State football game Saturday has been postponed

The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) will keep the league’s men’s and women’s track and field championships in Greensboro, North Carolina, even as the league restated its commitment to diversity and inclusion.

A statement released Tuesday night said the MEAC’s “Council of Chief Executive Officers has reaffirmed its commitment to diversity and inclusion and its opposition to any form of discrimination. The Council of Chief Executive Officers also supports the LGBTQ community and its rights to identify with their gender.

“Guided by these fundamental principles, the Council of Chief Executive Officers has voted for the 2017 outdoor track and field championships to remain in Greensboro, North Carolina, on the campus of North Carolina A&T State University.”

Also in the statement, MEAC commissioner Dennis E. Thomas said the “MEAC is opposed to” North Carolina’s House Bill 2, which requires transgender individuals to use restrooms in certain government buildings and schools consistent with the gender on their birth certificates.

HB2 nullified Charlotte, North Carolina’s, restroom law, which would have allowed transgender individuals to use restrooms consistent with the gender that they identify with.

“The conference has a commitment to fight discrimination in any way, shape or form and is an advocate for gender equality,” Thomas said. “Our priorities are the student-athletes, their families and fans of our member institutions and the values we all share. The MEAC will continue to provide an inclusive, diverse, safe and welcoming environment for all at our respective championships.”

The 2017 MEAC men’s and women’s outdoor track and field championships, slated to begin on May 4, 2017, are the only league championships slated for North Carolina next year.

On Sept. 30, the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association announced that because of time constraints, its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments would remain in Charlotte next February, but that the league was relocating eight other championship events out of North Carolina in protest of HB2.

North Carolina stands to lose an estimated $5 billion in business, entertainment and sports departures and federal funding, according to a UCLA study.

Hurricane causes postponement of Saturday game

South Carolina State University’s scheduled home football game against Bethune-Cookman University on Saturday in Orangeburg, South Carolina, has been postponed because of “predicted inclement weather” caused by Hurricane Matthew. A state of emergency for South Carolina has been issued by Gov. Nikki Haley.

The S.C. State-Bethune-Cookman contest will be rescheduled, the league said.

Several other MEAC schools have games scheduled in projected areas of Hurricane Matthew’s path, and the league is monitoring weather forecasts to determine whether those games will be affected.

“Our top priority is the well-being and safety of the student-athletes, coaches, athletic staff, ancillary units and fans,” Thomas said.

David Squires is an educator and digital journalist who lives in the Charlotte area and teaches journalism at N.C. A&T State University in Greensboro. He has covered HBCU sports for several decades, first with the St. Petersburg Times and later as editor-in-chief of the original BlackVoices.com and BVQ magazine. He has also worked in news and sports in New York, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Fort Worth and Hampton Roads. His passion is college basketball, and he is a die-hard Tar Heel -- born and bred.