March Madness

It’s “March Madness” all over again, appropriately playing out in the Tar Heel state – only this time without the basketball.  

On March 23 of last year, in response to an outlandish ordinance passed by the City of Charlotte, North Carolina’s state legislature passed House Bill 2, daring to affirm what had always been the case – that in public facilities, men should use the men’s restrooms and women should use women’s. (Novel concept, eh?) And of course as we all know, protests soon-after ensued. Lawsuits were filed. And perhaps most notably of all, the NCAA and the ACC threatened to pull their basketball tournaments from the state if it did not repeal the law – a threat they made good on.

Well according to some North Carolina lawmakers, two can play this game.

In fact, some state legislators are seeking to challenge the NCAA and ACC’s tax-exempt status in response to their retaliatory removal.

According to The Associated Press, “The House members filed a bill Monday directing Senate and House leaders to file IRS complaints against the sports organizations. They would allege the groups are lobbying beyond what their charters allow through "economic retaliation" if House Bill 2 is not repealed.”

My, my, how the tables are turning. The other team picked up the ball, with time still on the clock.

Recall that it was these groups who warned North Carolina that its decision to protect women and children in bathrooms could cost the state millions. I doubt at the time the NCAA and ACC considered that their decisions could come with an equally steep price tag. The tax liability for organizations that large surely must reach into the millions.

I can’t say that I think this kind of economic warfare is a very constructive outlet for civil discourse. However, I do think that if the NCAA and ACC are going to “fire a shot across the bow”, they shouldn’t feel surprised or mistreated when the other side fires back. And no matter how many people love watching the basketball games they sponsor (myself included), the NCAA and ACC are not above the law, and they certainly don’t get to make them. May this be a poignant reminder to them of that reality.