The dominoes continue to fall following the September decision on the part of NCAA to relocate its championships from North Carolina in response to a controversial law. ACC fell into line with NCAA and just recently, the National Junior College Athletic Association did too.
But the Southern Conference has seceded from that movement, opting instead to keep its events in the state. According to an article in The State, the conference has opted to keep its four league championships in North Carolina.
The conference said it will honor commitments for these tournaments: men's soccer in Greensboro, men's and women's basketball in Asheville and men's golf in Pinehurst.
"We don't want to punish the local host communities by pulling the championships out of the state this year," Commissioner John Iamarino told The State. "That point did resonate with presidents and chancellors."
The Southern Conference said in a statement its presidents and chancellors "reaffirmed their resolute opposition to legislation that discriminates against any individual.”
Iamarino noted the decision on the championships was not made lightly, and came after two conference calls among the organization’s leaders.
"While not unanimous, we found enough common ground to get to this point," Iamarino said.
He said the league was influenced by the North Carolina host communities, all urging the conference to hold its events as planned.
The Southern Conference is headquartered in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Its 10 schools — Citadel, Chattanooga, East Tennessee, Furman, Mercer, UNC Greensboro, Samford, VMI, Western Carolina and Wofford — are in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
Iamarino said the venues in North Carolina where SC plans to host its events are privately controlled and the league is confident of there will be an inclusive atmosphere at the events. The men's golf event will be held at Pinehurst Country Club and the basketball at a neutral site in Asheville. Soccer will be played on the Greensboro campus.
Iamarino noted that Southern Conference presidents and chancellors will meet in May to see if more action is necessary. He is also concerned the schools against keeping the championships in North Carolina might take their own actions, perhaps boycotting the league events played there.
"It's a real concern," he said. "We'll continue to communicate and prepare for everything."
The NJCAA already announced plans for the Association to relocate its 2017 Division III Baseball Championship, set to take place this May, out of Kinston, North Carolina. The NJCAA began work to find a replacement site immediately.