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Atlantic Coast Conference pulls championship game from North Carolina

The Atlantic Coast Conference announced Wednesday that it would move neutral-site championships for this academic year, including its football title game in December and its women’s basketball tournament in March, out of North Carolina in reaction to a state law that curbed anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The decision came two days after the N.C.A.A. announced that it would move championship games for the coming year, including six in the Division I men’s basketball tournament, touching off contentious debate between opponents of the law, who praised the N.C.A.A. for taking a stand, and supporters of the law, who said the association was inappropriately inserting itself into politics.

“The A.C.C. Council of Presidents made it clear that the core values of this league are of the utmost importance and the opposition to any form of discrimination is paramount,” Commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. “Today’s decision is one of principle.”

The A.C.C.’s action was not only another blow to the state, but one sure to hit home in every sense: Four of the conference’s 15 members are in the state, and the conference has its headquarters in Greensboro.

“When you’re talking about native North Carolinians, and particularly those of us who grew up in the A.C.C., this is a pretty powerful statement against the birthplace of that conference,” said J. Michael Bitzer, a political science professor at Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C.

The law, commonly referred to as House Bill 2 or H.B. 2, nullified local government ordinances establishing anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and requires people in publicly owned buildings to use restrooms that correspond with the genders listed on their birth certificates. The statute is the subject of federal lawsuits.

James P. Clements, the president of Clemson, said: “The decision to move the neutral-site championships out of North Carolina while H.B. 2 remains the law was not an easy one, but it is consistent with the shared values of inclusion and nondiscrimination at all of our institutions.”

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