ACC to consider NC as event host again after LGBT law change
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) The Atlantic Coast Conference is ready to start holding events again in North Carolina after the state rolled back a law that limited protections for LGBT people.
In a statement Friday, the league said its Council of Presidents has voted to again consider North Carolina sites to host events.
In September, the ACC pulled 10 neutral-site championships for the 2016-17 season due to the law, including moving the football championship game from Charlotte to Orlando.
The league had made it clear that it would consider moving events already awarded to North Carolina for the 2017-18 season if there wasn't a change in the law.
But North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed a compromise bill Thursday to repeal elements of the so-called ''bathroom bill'' after passage by the state legislature earlier in the day, making that threat moot.
Now the football title game will return in December to Charlotte, where it was set to run through 2019. The women's basketball tournament, previously announced to stay in Greensboro through 2022, will return there after a one-year stop in South Carolina.
In addition, the baseball tournament will be held in Durham in 2018 as was previously announced.
The men's basketball tournament, perhaps the league's signature event, was already slated for the second in a two-year stay in Brooklyn, New York, before returning to North Carolina in 2019 (Charlotte) and 2020 (Greensboro).
''This compromise was a first step to repairing our state's reputation and economy, and it's encouraging to see the ACC put North Carolina back on its list,'' Cooper said in a statement Friday. ''This is the first major step in a continued fight for statewide antidiscrimination protections.''
ACC Commissioner John Swofford issued a statement Thursday after Cooper's announcement that the governor had signed the compromise bill saying it ''allows the opportunity to reopen the discussion'' on holding those neutral-site events in the state.
The ACC's decision to pull events from North Carolina came shortly after the NCAA stripped the state of several championship events, including opening-weekend games in the men's basketball tournament set for Greensboro. Those games were moved to Greenville, South Carolina, which was allowed to host again after removing a Confederate flag from state capitol grounds in 2015.
The NCAA's ban didn't impact teams which earn homecourt advantage during the course of the season, such as the Duke women's team hosting NCAA tourney games earlier in March.
The NCAA had announced last week that the state was down to its final days to make changes to the law before it would be removed from consideration for future bids running through 2022. Speaking during his annual Final Four news conference Thursday, NCAA President Mark Emmert said the governing body would review the changes in the coming days in hopes of announcing a decision early next week as to whether it would again consider bids from North Carolina.
''I'm personally very pleased that they have a bill to debate and discuss,'' Emmert said. ''The politics of this in North Carolina are obviously very, very difficult. But they have passed a bill now and it'll be a great opportunity for our board to sit and debate and discuss it.''
Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap
More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-Top25