Calif. Schools in Bind

July 31, 2017

A California law enacted at the start of the year now bans state-funded travel to places with “discriminatory” legislation, thus preventing California state colleges and universities from playing games in those states.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the “no-go” list initially consisted of Tennessee, North Carolina, Mississippi, and Kansas, all states that CSU and UC rarely played. In June, Texas, South Dakota, Kentucky, and Alabama were added, with Texas being the most important to California's scheduling of athletic events.

Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California, an LGBT equality organization that sponsored the bill, said he hoped this law would result in the states on the list being pressured to change their policies.

“Our hope,” Zbur said, "is that one of the things this does is results in tournament and conference games not being sited in these states, that California schools will use their advocacy efforts with the NCAA … These games shouldn’t be occurring in these states. We want to send a message to these states that there is a cost to passing laws that are targeting our community.”

John David Wicker, athletic director for San Diego State University, said that he hoped the law would not negatively impact his school's student-athletes, such as if participating in the NCAA men's basketball tournament required them to travel to a state on the “no-go” list.

“I’m sensitive to equal rights for everyone,” Wicker said, “but at the same time we still have to be able to go about the business of college athletics … We’re going to continue to work with the Attorney General’s office to understand a way to make sure our student-athletes, coaches and staff aren’t impacted negatively in the ability to do their job.”

Wicker also expressed concern about other states, such as Arizona or Utah, potentially passing laws considered “discriminatory,” and thus being added to the list.

“Depending on what gets passed in other states,” Wicker said, “are we potentially one day not going to be able to travel anywhere?”

Zbur said the schools could use methods of funding travel that did not use public money.

“It’s not our intent to impact student-athletes’ careers,” Zbur said. “But we also think schools should be modifying their activities in order to comply with the spirit of the law, and we understand they’ve been doing that from the discussions we’ve had.”

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