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NCAA should wield clout to pressure Indiana on religious freedom law

Kevin Lucena

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Assistant sports editor Kevin Lucena. Photo credit: Trevor Ryan

No more Final Four, no more Cinderella stories and no more cutting-down-the-net ceremony.

No, I don’t mean canceling the NCAA Tournament altogether. Just don’t hold any more of the events in Indiana.

Every few years the NCAA selects Indiana to host either the men’s or women’s Final Four, bringing with it a massive amount of revenue to the state’s businesses, restaurants and hotels.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence recently signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law, allowing businesses the right to refuse service to LGBT people on the basis of religious freedom.

What?

Thirty-seven states have already legalized gay marriage, and the Supreme Court is expected to rule in June that people nationwide can marry partners of their choice regardless of gender.

If Indiana chooses to remain in the past, the NCAA should set an example for the rest of the sports world to follow.

The 2016 women’s Final Four scheduled to be held in Indianapolis? Not anymore.

The early-round games of the men’s tournament that Indiana is preparing to host in 2017? No, that’ll be held elsewhere now.

The 2021 men’s Final Four set to be played in Indiana? Move it to a state with more enlightened citizens.

Discrimination of any kind is wrong and does nothing but demean anyone involved. From the people doing the discrimination to those being discriminated against, and even to the people who see it going on and decide not to do anything about it.

The biggest threat that the NCAA could make against the state if it won’t change the law? It can threaten to leave the state altogether.

The NCAA office has been located in downtown Indianapolis since 1999. Tell Indiana that if these recent laws show how its citizens feel, then the NCAA no longer feels comfortable in a state where sexual diversity is feared rather than embraced.

Think of the message this law sends to the vulnerable youth of America, many who are still scared to openly show their sexuality. It says to them that somehow they have less worth.

According to a study called the Trevor Project, LGBT teens are four times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual youth, and laws like this continue to send the wrong message.

Those who think the NCAA can’t follow through on a punishment need look no further than South Carolina and Mississippi, which have been banned from hosting NCAA championships of any kind since 2001 because the Confederate flag is still flown over the state Capitol buildings.

The precedent for leaving a state exists. If Indiana can’t catch up with the majority of America in accepting everyone for who they are, the NCAA should be out. It can even use its favorite term when describing what the state is being punished for.

A lack of institutional control.

Kevin Lucena can be reached at [email protected] or @klucena824 on Twitter.

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NCAA should wield clout to pressure Indiana on religious freedom law