Republican politicians in North Carolina are lashing out at the NCAA after the sanctioning body announced it was relocating seven championship sporting events because of a state law limiting civil rights protections for LGBT people.
The law, known as HB2, has drawn wide condemnation and had already cost the state the 2017 NBA All-Star game.
"Our women and girls in the state of North Carolina are not for sale," North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest told reporters. "They're not for sale to Hollywood, to any concert venue, to the NBA or the NCAA. The protection and safety and security of women and girls in North Carolina is our utmost importance."
In a statement obtained by the Charlotte Observer and other news organizations, the North Carolina GOP got personal, taking the NCAA to task over Baylor University's mishandling of alleged sexual assault by members of its football team.
"This is so absurd it's almost comical. I genuinely look forward to the NCAA merging all men's and women's teams together as singular, unified, unisex teams," the state's Republican party spokesperson, Kami Mueller, said in the statement. "Under the NCAA's logic, colleges should make cheerleaders and football players share bathrooms, showers and hotel rooms. This decision is an assault to female athletes across the nation. If you are unwilling to have women's bathrooms and locker rooms, how do you have a women's team?
Mueller concluded: "I wish the NCAA was this concerned about the women who were raped at Baylor. Perhaps the NCAA should stop with their political peacocking — and instead focus their energies on making sure our nation's collegiate athletes are safe, both on and off the field."
As we've reported, HB2 "limits anti-discrimination protections for LGBT individuals and requires transgender people to use public bathrooms that match the sex listed on their birth certificates, rather than the gender with which they identify."
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory issued his own statement later in the afternoon saying the HB2 issue will be resolved in the U.S. court system for North Carolina and for other states with similar laws.
"I strongly encourage all public and private institutions to both respect and allow our nation's judicial system to proceed without economic threats or political retaliation toward the 22 states that are currently challenging government overreach," McCrory said. "Sadly, the NCAA, a multi-billion dollar, tax-exempt monopoly, failed to show this respect at the expense of our student athletes and hard-working men and women."
Looking to the future, NBC Sports wonders: Now that the NBA and NCAA have acted, will the Atlantic Coast Conference also begin to pull events out of North Carolina?
ACC Commissioner John Swofford, as NBC reports, said it would be premature to say whether the ACC would pull out of the state. But then he added a personal statement.
"It's time for this bill to be repealed as it's counter to basic human rights," Swofford said.