Connecticut Coaches to Skip Final Four Due to Indiana LawEben Novy-Williams
University of Connecticut men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie, whose Huskies won the national championship last season, won’t go to the NCAA Final Four this weekend because of Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The announcement by school president Susan Herbst came Tuesday, a day after Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy signed an executive order banning state-funded travel to Indiana.
The Indiana measure, signed into law last week, has been widely criticized by those who say it could lead to increased, legal discrimination against gays and lesbians.
“In support of Governor Malloy’s travel ban to the state of Indiana, Kevin Ollie and other members of the UConn men’s basketball staff will not travel to Indianapolis for the NCAA Final Four and events surrounding it,” Herbst said in a statement. “UConn is a community that values all of our members and treats each person with the same degree of respect, regardless of their background and beliefs and we will not tolerate any other behavior.”
Earlier Tuesday, University of Southern California athletic director Pat Haden said he would not attend College Football Playoff committee meetings in Indianapolis this week in honor of his son, who is gay.
“I am the proud father of a gay son,” Haden said in a Twitter post bearing the hashtag #EmbraceDiversity.
Indiana Governor Mike Pence said Tuesday that he’s pushing lawmakers to pass additional legislation clarifying that the law doesn’t permit discrimination against gays and lesbians. Indiana-based companies, including Eli Lilly & Co. and Anthem Inc., pressed state leaders to clarify that the law can’t be used to justify discrimination.
“We’ve got a perception problem here,” Pence said during a news conference at the Indiana Statehouse. “We intend to correct that.”
The National Collegiate Athletic Association, which is based in Indianapolis and hosting the semifinals and finals of its men’s basketball tournament there this weekend, has said it is concerned by the implications of the law and is seeking clarity. NCAA President Mark Emmert suggested that the law could prompt the organization, which had $989 million in revenue last year, to move its events or offices elsewhere.
“You don’t want to, because of a political activity, disrupt an event that’s been in the making for so long,” Emmert said Monday in an interview on ESPN. “But if we have to move events, we’ll do it.”