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How Controversial LGBT Laws Could Complicate Team Travel this March

21 Mar, 2018

By: Michael Popke

San Diego State University almost pulled off an upset in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, losing to No. 6-seeded Houston in the final second. But the Aztecs overcame an arguably greater challenge in simply arriving at INTRUST Bank Arena in Wichita, Kan., in the first place.

Kansas is one of eight states with laws the state of California views as discriminatory toward gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people,” CBSSports.com reported. Last year, legislators passed California Assembly Bill 1887, which prohibits state-funded travel to states with discriminatory laws.

That meant SDSU needed to find a different way to fund the basketball team’s travel east. “We use private funds,” SDSU spokesman Mike May told CBSSports.com. “We use non-state appropriated funds to work around that.”

Kansas — along with Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas — have passed legislation that allows for LGBT-related discrimination.

“Kansas is on California’s travel prohibition list because of a 2016 law that enables campus religious groups to restrict their membership to students that adhere to a religion’s tenets,” according to The Garden City Telegram in Kansas. “That law, signed by former Gov. Sam Brownback, was crafted partially in response to a controversy in California that occurred when a Christian student group lost recognition on California State University campuses for failure to comply with an ‘all comers’ non-discrimination policy in 2014.”

“Opponents of the Kansas law previously raised concern that it would allow for discrimination based on race, sexual orientation and gender on taxpayer-funded campuses,” the paper continued. “Supporters said it was necessary to protect religious freedom on campus.”

According to CBSSports.com:

While the NCAA covers most of the expenses for tournament participants — charter travel, hotels, meals — any overage in this case must be covered by San Diego State. [Athletic director] J.D. Wicker told CBS Sports [the university] could use privately-raised funds and a $100,000 stipend available from the Mountain West Conference.

San Diego State used funds from its Campanile Foundation to travel and play in the Armed Forces bowl in December in Fort Worth, Texas. 

“We’ve already done this once,” Wicker said.

The Campanile Foundation manages private and philanthropic giving at the school.

For the record, four of the eight states on California’s banned list were awarded NCAA Tournament games this year – Tennessee, North Carolina, Texas and Kansas — and the Final Four will be played at San Antonio’s Alamodome.

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