University Of Vermont’s (UVM) women’s basketball team today reneged on their contract to play at University of North Carolina on December 28th citing safety concerns for coaches, staff and players due to the state’s HB2 bathroom law. The two athletic programs verbally committed to the game on March 29, just days after North Carolina’s HB2 law went into effect, according to Burlington Free Press. Vermont then signed a contract to play the game one month later, which stipulated North Carolina would pay Vermont $17,500 to make the trip. The Tar Heels were also to cover the costs of 12 hotel rooms and three meals for the visiting team.
According to ESPN.com, “Vermont athletic director Jeff Schulman said the decision to cancel our Dec. 28 women’s basketball game at North Carolina was made as a result of concerns over the HB2 law, which prevents transgender people from using government-run bathrooms based on their gender identity. We strive very hard to create an inclusive climate for our students and staff in which they all can feel safe, respected and valued. It would be hard to fulfill these obligations while competing in a state with this law, which is contrary to our values as an athletic department and university.”
Today’s publicity stunt by UVM is yet another example of someone making a public statement without actually first reading HB2. Although UVM is one of the most progressive in the nation, their athletic programs uses public accommodations identical to ones in use at the University of North Carolina. According to the Vermont’s policy posted on their website as of August 25th, “Athletics staff have identified a single-user, gender neutral restroom, changing room, and shower facility that trans people can use.”
While hundreds of sports teams continue to support their student athletes by traveling into North Carolina, UVM joins fellow conference member University at Albany as two schools that will punish their students to make a political statement. Albany cancelled a men’s basketball game at Duke originally scheduled for November. The SUNY school sited Governor Cuomo’s executive order banning non-essential travel to the state because of HB2 although Duke University is a private institution and their bathroom & locker room policies would not be impacted by HB2 which requires use to match biological sex when using bathrooms, showers, changing facilities in government-owned buildings.