Opinion: NCAA must make states with anti-trans laws pay with loss of championships

Bigotry comes with a price.

All those states that already have or are in the process of trying to ram through legislation that would prohibit transgender girls and young women from playing sports should take note of that letter issued late Monday by the NCAA’s Board of Governors. Its support for transgender athletes, and the science-based criteria that guides their participation, is noteworthy.

But it is the Board of Governor’s warning at the bottom of the letter that should set off alarm bells in Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Tennessee and more than a dozen other states.

“When determining where championships are held, NCAA policy directs that only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected,” the board wrote. “We will continue to closely monitor these situations to determine whether NCAA championships can be conducted in ways that are welcoming and respectful of all participants.”

In other words, keep going down this discriminatory path, and you can kiss goodbye your ability to host Final Fours and earlier rounds of the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, as well as championships for tennis, golf, rowing, cross country and any other number of sports.

NCAA Board of Governors statement on transgender participation: https://t.co/5cy6XDktoopic.twitter.com/6xjr1MFOo9

This is no idle threat. After North Carolina passed HB2, the so-called “bathroom bill” that also targeted transgender people, in the spring of 2016, the NCAA yanked its first- and second-round games in the men’s basketball tournament out of Greensboro the next year. (The ACC followed suit, moving its football championship to Orlando.)

South Carolina did not host any predetermined NCAA championship from 2002 until 2015 as punishment for the state’s insistence on flying the Confederate flag above the capitol. When the NCAA and SEC said last June that they would not hold championships in Mississippi so long as the state flag contained a Confederate battle emblem, it took lawmakers less than two weeks to get rid of it.

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