NCAA issues statement on Indiana religious freedom bill
The NCAA issued a statement on Thursday in response to a controversial religious freedom bill in Indiana that is set to become a law.
On Thursday, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed the bill into law. The new law could allow business owners to refuse to serve same-sex couples based on religious beliefs.
While supporters of the law say it protects individual religious freedom from government overreach, critics have said that it encourages discrimination.
The NCAA issued the following statement from president Mark Emmert on Thursday:
"The NCAA national office and our members are deeply committed to providing an inclusive environment for all our events. We are especially concerned about how this legislation could affect our student-athletes and employees. 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. Moving forward, we intend to closely examine the implications of this bill and how it might affect future events as well as our workforce."
The Final Four will be held at Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, on April 4 and 6. The NCAA is also headquartered in Indianapolis.
In the aftermath of the bill's passage, the LGBT Sports Coalition voiced its support for relocating major sporting events from Indiana.
An online petition on change.org that had garnered more than 3,300 signatures by Friday morning is calling for the Big Ten conference's football championship to be moved out of Indianapolis. The game is set to be held at Lucas Oil Stadium through 2021.
Last year, a similar bill proposed in Arizona caused some to voice concern that the state might lose hosting rights for Super Bowl XLIX if the bill became law. The bill was eventually vetoed by former Arizona governor Jan Brewer.
- Mike Fiammetta