The eyes of North Carolina are trained on Brooklyn this weekend as Duke or North Carolina vie to win another ACC tournament.
But the most interesting meeting could be occurring off the court, where the conference’s university presidents are gathering for one of their rare confabs.
One issue that may be on the table is whether the conference will withhold athletic tournaments from North Carolina because of House Bill 2. (The men’s basketball tournament is slated to be in Charlotte in 2019 and Greensboro in 2020.) Most conservatives who favor HB2 obviously want the chancellors to vote no on any economic boycott, while most liberals would love to gain more support for their efforts to repeal the law.
Veteran Raleigh journalist Paul Chesser, a strong conservative, has been pressing the presidents of UNC Chapel Hill and N.C. State University for months to see how they would vote on such a measure. A decision is expected in the next month or so after ACC Commissioner John Swofford urged N.C. lawmakers to resolve the issue or risk losing the tournaments.
We asked Carolina, State and the ACC for comment. N.C. State Chancellor Randy Woodson said via email he didn’t know if the matter was on the agenda, and he suggested contacting the ACC. UNC Chancellor Carol Folt couldn’t be reached for comment; a UNC spokeswoman referred us to the ACC.
ACC spokeswoman Amy Yakola said the presidents’ agenda isn’t public and the conference would provide any updates when relevant.
The issue also sparked some dissension this week on the UNC System Board of Governors, which oversees the 17-campus system. Marty Kotis, a Greensboro developer with a maverick reputation, sent an email to the entire board asking that any vote by Folt or Woodson be made public. He opposes all economic boycotts and favors transparency, he said in an interview. He also said he would not favor any retribution if the chancellors voted contrary to his viewpoint. It’s just better for public servants to have their cards on the table rather than hide their decisions, he said.
Kotis’ email sparked a reply from fellow governor Joe Knott, a Raleigh lawyer who said the board should not be dictating to the chancellors on such an issue. “The Chancellors work for the President of the University. They are responsible to her, not to us. If the President is unhappy with, or does not trust her Chancellors, it is her responsibility to correct their performance or replace them.” He also noted that, “talented individuals usually accomplish more in private negotiations than in the chaos of a town hall atmosphere.”
One suspects that presidents’ meeting will be more exciting than waiting for Grayson Allen’s next blowup.