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CIAA keeps basketball tournaments in Charlotte for 2017

Eight other championships moving out of HB2-stained North Carolina

Time, apparently, was on the side of the men’s and women’s basketball championships of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA).

The oldest African-American athletic league announced Friday that its wildly popular CIAA tournament would remain in Charlotte, North Carolina, for 2017, but that eight other league events would be relocated out of North Carolina because of the controversial House Bill 2 (HB2), which is seen as an affront to LGBT rights.

The league revealed its decision in a news release sent out at 2 p.m. Friday, and shortly afterward, an employee at the league office said staff was out of the office for the rest of the day.


CIAA faces tough call on moving events out of North Carolina

In part, the release said:

“In a meeting held by the 12 members of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) board of directors, a decision was reached to immediately relocate eight of the 10 North Carolina-based conference championships.

“Due to time constraints, particularly as they relate to contractual obligations, the 2017 CIAA women’s and men’s basketball tournaments will remain in Charlotte as relocation would not be in the best interest of the membership and its student-athletes at this time.

“The CIAA’s transition, beginning with the relocation of eight championships, is the first step in demonstrating that the conference does not support laws which prevent communities from effectively protecting student-athletes and fans. For the 2017 basketball tournament, the CIAA will focus its resources to enhance the student-athlete experience in venue with collaborative efforts aligning with the Charlotte community to highlight diversity, inclusion, youth education and leadership.”

The release said that the board would continue to discuss whether future league championships would remain in North Carolina, including future CIAA basketball tournaments.

The CIAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments are scheduled to be held Feb. 20-25, 2017, in Charlotte, bringing $55 million and 150,000 visitors to the Queen City. The tournaments have been played in Charlotte since 2006.

Eight of the league’s 12 schools are in North Carolina.

Discussion about moving the tournament heated up earlier this month when the NCAA and ACC announced they were pulling planned athletic events from the state after business and entertainers had already scuttled planned ventures and play dates in Charlotte.

HB2 mandates that transgender men and women must use restrooms in schools and government buildings consistent with the gender on their birth certificate, and it nullified an LBGT-friendly Charlotte law that allowed use of restrooms of the gender that people identify with.

HB2 could cost North Carolina as much as $5 billion in business, athletic and entertainment events, facilities and federal funding, according to a UCLA study.

One early casualty was the 2017 NBA All-Star Game, which has been relocated to New Orleans.

The CIAA board discussed potential financial losses to the league and member schools, but the league also wanted to be on the right side of the debate, a sentiment expressed to The Undefeated last week by Shaw University president Tashni-Ann Dubroy, who also expressed that concern in a column for the website HBCU Digest.

“It remains a topic that has its complexities,” Dubroy said last week. “And it was a passionate dialogue.”

In Friday’s release, the league said:

“The CIAA board recognizes that a single decision cannot offer a complete solution to a law that prevents communities from effectively protecting student-athletes and fans attending championships and events. The conference intends to increase its educational efforts to eliminate biases that exclude or marginalize any human being, regardless of one’s race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender or physical disability. The board’s decision allows the conference to fight against any measures which prevent the fulfillment of its mission to foster inclusive cultures for its student-athletes. With the student-athlete experience in mind, the conference is committed to protecting all of its championship events.”

The league said it would make future announcements “regarding new championship locations.”

Conference schools stood to lose $6 million combined, and possibly more, considering possible deposits lost on venues for scholarship fundraisers for some schools.

Fayetteville State University chancellor James Anderson told his trustees earlier in September that his school could lose as much as $1 million because of potential forfeits of contracts associated with school-sponsored events, according to The Fayetteville Observer.

Meanwhile, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), the other historically black college and university conference with schools and events in North Carolina, is “currently reviewing the situation,” according to MEAC commissioner Dennis E. Thomas.

MEAC spokesman Ryan McGinty said the only league event slated for North Carolina in 2017 is the outdoor track and field championships at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro.

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.