Petition calls for Big Ten title game to be moved from Indianapolis
A petition on change.org is calling for the Big Ten championship game to be moved away from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
The petition was posted in light of Indiana governor Mike Pence signing into law a religious freedom bill that could allow business owners to deny service to same-sex couples because of their religious beliefs.
The men's basketball Final Four will be held at Lucas Oil Stadium this year. The venue also houses the Indianapolis Colts, has staged the NFL Scouting Combine every year since 1987 and hosted Super Bowl XLVI.
On Friday, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the NFL does "not have a comment at this time" but that "we are in the process of studying the law and its implications."
The Big Ten championship game, which was first played in 2011, is scheduled to remain at Lucas Oil Stadium through 2021. According to outsports.com, the petition was started by a gay football fan from Wisconsin. The petition, which can be viewed here, had garnered more than 3,500 signatures by Friday morning.
"A law such as this runs contrary to the ideals of the Big Ten Conference and puts students, fans and staff at risk of open discrimination based solely on who they love," the petition reads. "Such law sends the message that members of the LBGT community are second class citizens contrary to the many contributions members of the LGBT community have made in areas such as science, the arts, architecture, business and not to mention sports."
The Big Ten later released a statement about the bill. "The Big Ten Conference and its member institutions believe in promoting an inclusive environment in which athletic competition can operate free from discrimination," the statement reads. "The conference is aware of the bill that was recently signed into law in the state of Indiana and will further review its impact at the next scheduled meetings of its administrators, presidents and chancellors."
On Thursday, NCAA president Mark Emmert issued a statement on the bill. The college sports governing body is headquartered in Indianapolis.
"The NCAA national office and our members are deeply committed to providing an inclusive environment for all our events," the statement reads. "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."