The controversial Indiana law that’s made national headlines over the past few days — known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act — has now directly affected college basketball.
University of Connecticut president Susan Herbst announced Tuesday night that UConn’s men’s basketball coaches — including head coach Kevin Ollie — will not fly out to the Final Four this year because of the bill in question.
The Final Four, aside from being the culmination of the college basketball season and the stage for the national championship, is also an annual convention of nearly every Division I coach. The National Association of Basketball Coaches holds its yearly convention, and most in the profession attend.
Ollie and Co. have opted out — and basically been forced to, because UConn is a state-backed institution and so the university is now prohibited from sending its employees to Indiana for business-related purposes. A travel This ban was put into effect on Monday by Connecticut governor Dannel Malloy. The ban prevents any state-funded business to be paid for, via flights or other transit, into Indiana.
Here’s Herbst’s statement.
UConn coaches won’t travel to Indianapolis for Final 4. Statement from President Susan Herbst pic.twitter.com/BDSgnlHwTE
— Paul Doyle (@PaulDoyle1) March 31, 2015
UConn is the reigning national champion. Ollie just finished his third season as UConn coach. The Huskies failed to reach the NCAA Tournament this season.
Connecticut is home to seven Division I schools — UConn, Central Connecticut State, Yale, Hartford, Quinnipiac, Fairfield and Sacred Heart. The latter five are private institutions, and therefor not privy to the travel ban. A CCSU spokesman told the Hartford Courant that its coaches were not planning to travel to the Final Four anyway.
The language therein of the law opens up the possibility of businesses to discriminate against others based on religious beliefs or sexuality.
Earlier on Tuesday, USC athletic director Pat Haden openly spoke out against the nature of the Indiana bill in question. Haden’s son is gay. The College Football Playoff, whose committee Haden is on, has planned meetings in Indianapolis this week. Haden said he will not be attending.