INDIANAPOLIS - As pressure builds for the repeal or revision of Indiana's new religious objection law, the NCAA faces a decision about whether to seek a new venue for next year's women's Final Four.
NCAA president Mark Emmert has indicated the Indianapolis-based organization would consider relocating all types of college sports events out of state if the law doesn't change. None is quite as urgent as next year's women's championship.
Indiana's capital city, which has built an economy and reputation as an attractive base for major sports events, is being watched carefully as fallout swells about the law, which opponents say amounts to legalized discrimination. The NCAA was among the first sports organizations to express concern with the law when it was signed by Gov. Mike Pence last week, and many others have followed, including the NFL, the NBA, and NASCAR.
The men's Final Four is in Indianapolis this weekend and could not have been moved on short notice. But officials have made it clear there is enough time to consider relocating future events, and that they want an environment welcoming to all athletes and fans.
"What's going on in Indiana is troubling," NCAA vice president of women's basketball championships Anucha Browne said Thursday.
"We will assess all our championships in the state of Indiana. We want to ensure that student athletes have a positive experience wherever we take them and our fans to. It's the right thing to do."
The Indiana law prohibits any laws that "substantially burdens" a person's ability to follow his or her religious beliefs. The definition of "person" includes religious institutions, businesses, and associations. It does not specifically mention gays and lesbians.