Swofford Taking the Right Approach on Future #ACC Championship Events In North Carolina


Good evening, Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) sports fans – you know that saying – it’s always five o’clock somewhere!! 😉

We rarely touch on political issues here, but this is one I’m going to touch on because ACC Commisioner, John Swofford, is handling it well.

Specifically, the North Carolina legislature recently passed House Bill 2, which bans anti-discrimination measures based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and requires transgender people to use public bathrooms that match their birth certificates (it overturns a local Charlotte, MC anti-discrimination ordinance).  North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed the bill into law – and the state is feeling some effects from it.  Online payment vendor, PayPal, has already announced that they are withdrawing their plans for business expansion, including the addition of 400 jobs, in Charlotte, NC.  In response, the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) fired off a letter on May 4, 2016 informing  Governor McCrory that House Bill 2 is a violation of the 1964 Federal Civil Rights Act – and basically informed the governor North Carolin has until Monday, May 9, 2016 to “remedy any ill effects of the law” (lawyer speak for – don’t implement this, son).

Obviously, five days isn’t a whole lotta time for a state to respond to a letter like this – so State of North Carolina officials, Governor Pat McCrory and Secretary Frank Perry, filed a lawsuit against USDOJ (you might ask why the Attorney General, Roy Cooper, didn’t file the lawsuit – he happens to running for governor in the fall vs. Pat McCrory) – and USDOJ filed a countersuit against Governor Pat McCrory and Secretary Frank Perry (as well as the University of North Carolina, the North Carolina Board of Governors, and the North Carolina Department of Public Safety) to stop the implementation of the legislation or risk losing billions in Title IX aid.  Cooler heads have prevailed, though, in that Title IX funding will not be held up while the case is making its way through the courts.


Like the NBA (h/t @TheComeBack), Swofford is taking a wait and see approach with House Bill 2.  You get more leverage when are in a wait and see position because many times cooler heads will prevail (and if you wait, you have more leverage over a decision).  From ESPN:

Last year, the ACC extended its partnership with Charlotte to host the ACC championship game through 2019. In the 2015-16 academic year, the ACC had 11 championships in the state. Five sports — football, baseball, women’s basketball and men’s and women’s swimming — have multi-year contracts to hold their championships in North Carolina.

When asked what specific commitments the league would require to keep their championships from moving, Swofford said, “Our policy right now is if the venues we are contracted with and have commitments to and business relationships with, as long as that venue and city can provide us with a statement of fairness and non-discrimination in every respect and assure that our student athletes and fans and everybody associated with the event will be treated in a non-discriminatory way then we will maintain the commitments that we have.”



“We’re going to do what we think is best in the context of who we are as a major college conference,” Swofford said. “We absolutely have been and still are and always will be dedicated to all the things that we’ve said before. Ultimately, we’re not going to take championships anywhere we can’t be assured that’s respected and people coming to our events are treated and respected fairly and treated well. That’s absolutely critical to this conference.”

Swofford said if nothing changes with the state law, then this topic will be revisited at the next conference meetings.

“This is playing out in ways none of us could have envisioned, so I think a lot of us are dealing with something we’ve never dealt with before,” Swofford said. “We’ll have to see what the end point is. Then I’m sure the conference will revisit that.

I like the approach that Swofford is taking here.  Swofford and the ACC institutional presidents are not making any quick decisions on moving any of the conference championship events – they are waiting to see what happens probably because there will be some expedited court action.  It is a good decision to wait.

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