NCAA says it will monitor impacts of Indiana religious freedom bill



INDIANAPOLIS — NCAA President Mark Emmert said Thursday that the governing body for college sports is concerned about an Indiana law that could allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT people.

“We are especially concerned about how this legislation could affect our student-athletes and employees,” Emmert said in a statement released not long after the bill was signed into law by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

The NCAA is located in Indianapolis and the men’s basketball tournament’s Final Four will be held there next week.

The law would prohibit state and local laws that “substantially burden” the ability of people – including businesses and associations – to follow their religious beliefs.

“We will work diligently to assure student-athletes competing in, and visitors attending, next week’s Men’s Final Four in Indianapolis are not impacted negatively by this bill,” Emmert said. “Moving forward, we intend to closely examine the implications of this bill and how it might affect future events as well as our workforce.”

An online push for the NCAA to react to the bill began a couple of days ago with the hashtag #Final4Fairness.

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Former professional basketball player Jason Collins, the first openly gay athlete to play in the NBA, tweeted: “@GovPenceIN, is it going to be legal for someone to discriminate against me & others when we come to the #FinalFour?”

The LGBT Sports Coalition called for the NCAA, the Big Ten, the NFL and USA Diving and USA Gymnastics pull events from Indianapolis over the next 16 months.

The Big Ten has held its football championship game in at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis and has a contracted to remain there until 2021. The conference also is scheduled to hold its men’s basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis in 2020 and 2022. The Big Ten women’s basketball tournament is set to be held in Indianapolis from 2017-22.

The Final Four is scheduled to return to Indianapolis in 2021 and the city is also hoping to land the 2019 Super Bowl. The NFL also holds its draft combine at Lucas Oil Stadium every year.

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