The NCAA and Atlantic Coast Conference announced they will relocate several championship events slated to be held in North Carolina for the 2016-17 school year due to concerns about the state’s controversial House Bill 2. Among the events affected are the Division II College World Series and the ACC baseball tournament.
The NCAA announced its decision Monday, and the ACC followed suit Wednesday. In a statement, NCAA president Mark Emmert said the decision was about fairness and inclusion.
“Fairness is about more than the opportunity to participate in college sports, or even compete for championships,” Emmert said. “We believe in providing a safe and respectful environment at our events and are committed to providing the best experience possible for college athletes, fans and everyone taking part in our championships.”
The Division II CWS has been held at USA Baseball’s National Training Complex in Cary, N.C., since 2009, and was scheduled to host the event through 2018. The ACC tournament has been held at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park five times since 2009, and was slated to host the tournament through 2018.
Mount Olive (N.C.) served as the host school for the Division II CWS. Trojans coach Carl Lancaster said he wasn’t surprised to see the event moved.
“It’s really unfortunate because we felt like we had really done a lot of good things with the tournament over the years,” he said. “We went before it was here and we’ve been since it’s been in Cary, and it’s a much different, much better event.”
Now, both the NCAA and the ACC are looking for new venues. The schedules for the major leagues and full-season minor leagues have already been announced, complicating the search for off-campus sites. The NCAA has an especially difficult task, as the CWS hosts eight teams and lasts two weeks.
The ACC tournament runs May 23-28, packing 15 games into six days. It is possible to find minor league stadiums within the ACC’s expansive footprint that are open that week, but hosting the tournament requires a lot of extra work for the stadium crew. Other possible alternatives include playing the tournament at a campus site, using a summer ball team’s stadium or a spring training facility in Florida.