RALEIGH, N.C. — UNC and Duke won’t have to travel very far for the start of the NCAA tournament.
They’ll both play about four hours southwest in Greenville, S.C. But the games were supposed to be much closer, in Greensboro.
The NCAA pulled the games out of the state in reaction to House Bill Two.
Now, one lawmaker wants a federal investigation into whether the NCAA broke the law when it moved the contests.
State Rep. Mark Brody (R-Anson) wants the games back in North Carolina, and he wants the state to formally ask the IRS to look into whether the NCAA and ACC broke the rules for tax-exempt organizations by engaging in what he calls “excessive lobbying.”
Brody said the games are part of the state’s tradition.
“The North Carolina General Assembly did not pick this fight,” he said. “It was the ACC that decided to react. And what they did, in my opinion, is they used economic extortion in order to force our hand at legislation, at social legislation, that we believe is in violation of their core mission.”
State Sen. Floyd McKissick Jr. (D-Durham) said asking for an IRS investigation is the wrong approach.
“It’s rather startling. I’m not familiar with any state initiating an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service into whether an entity is engaged in proper conduct,” he said.
He added, “(I’ve) never heard anything like it. It’s highly unusual. It’s like trying to persecute the messenger rather than trying to listen to the message. They were delivering a message we should all listen to – non-discrimination – and act accordingly: repeal House Bill Two.”
The ACC did not comment directly on Brody’s proposal, but instead pointed to previous statements about HB2.
Brody filed House Bill 328, the Athletic Associations Accountability Act, which calls for the investigation, on Monday.
The bill’s co-sponsors are state reps. Chris Millis (R-Onslow), Larry Yarborough (R-Person) and Beverly G. Boswell (R-Beaufort).
The bill would also require state employees that serve on athletic association boards to identify themselves and to disclose what they’ve voted on and how they’ve voted.
Brody said he’d be willing to reconsider calling for an investigation if the sports organizations just brought the games back to North Carolina.
“I would probably say they can drop all of this and allow North Carolina to have its post-season play,” Brody said. “That was really the catalyst for it, so if they decide to change their mind, well then, I guess we’ll re-evaluate and see if we want to change our mind, which is fair enough.”