Leaders from the state’s four Atlantic Coast Conference member universities were mostly mum about where they came down in the decision to move 2016-17 championship events from North Carolina because of House Bill 2.
Duke University President Richard Brodhead voted in favor of moving the championships out of the state, said Michael Schoenfeld, Duke’s vice president for public affairs and government relations. Duke officials have been vocal in their opposition to the law from the beginning. Duke’s athletic director, Kevin White, recently called the legislation “discriminatory, troubling and embarrassing.”
N.C. State University Chancellor Randy Woodson and UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt declined to reveal how they voted but did issue a joint statement saying, “The ACC Council of Presidents discussions, deliberations and breakdown of votes are confidential. We can confirm it was a thoughtful and vigorous discussion and was not a unanimous vote.”
Wake Forest University President Nathan Hatch also would not say how he voted, but maintained that the university’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is “unwavering.”
“I support the goals of the ACC to create a welcoming and inclusive environment,” Hatch said in a statement Wednesday. “I hope in the near future the state can eliminate any doubt we all hold the same values.”
Woodson and Folt found themselves in the uncomfortable position of voting as ACC members and public university leaders in a heated political battle in North Carolina over HB2, the so-called bathroom bill that limits anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people. The UNC system is caught in the middle of a lawsuit about the law, which is not being enforced on the campuses.
On Wednesday the 15-member ACC presidents council voted to remove 10 neutral-site championships from North Carolina, including the football title game that had been scheduled for Charlotte in December. It was notable because the league has its headquarters in Greensboro and has a long history of holding championship contests in its home state. The decision came two days after the NCAA pulled its championships out of North Carolina.
Though Republican Gov. Pat McCrory has stood firmly behind the law, the actions by the ACC and NCAA this week have prompted several Republican lawmakers to withdraw their support for it.
UNC system President Margaret Spellings said in a statement she hopes for a speedy resolution to the matter in the courts. She said she appreciates that the ACC shares UNC’s commitment to an inclusive environment for all, but its decision will penalize host communities and fans throughout the state.
“Intercollegiate sports and the ACC are integral parts of North Carolina’s economy and way of life,” her statement said.