The NCAA doesn’t always make the best decisions when it comes to important policy or rules decisions for either the organization itself or schools that fall under its umbrella. In fact, more often than not it seems announcements by the NCAA elicit immediate blowback and criticism. Whether that is earned criticism or simply the internet news cycle necessitating anger at all times, they haven’t had the best press in recent years. Finally though, they seem to have turned things around for at least a single announcement. The Board of Governors approved adding a new section to the bidding process for schools hoping to host NCAA events the prevents any school in a state with anti-LGBT laws to win a bid. Or, in the words of the NCCA itself,
The Association considers the promotion of inclusiveness in race, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity as a vital element to protecting the well-being of student-athletes, promoting diversity in hiring practices and creating a culture of fairness.
Historically, the Association has used the opportunity to host its events as a means to make clear its values. The Association now prohibits championships events with predetermined sites in states where governments display the Confederate battle flag, and prohibits NCAA members from hosting championships events if their school nicknames use Native American imagery that is considered abusive and offensive.
As you can see, the wording also prevents schools in any state that still flies the Confederate Flag from hosting events, or if the school itself uses offensive Native American logos or nicknames. While the amount of schools this applies to is quickly diminishing due to efforts over the last decade, it is clearly still a concern. Whether these restrictions will urge schools to change their ways or states to alter their own legislation is completely up in the air – after all, the NCAA “doesn’t make enough money to pay players” so how much of a financial punishment against the schools could it be to withdraw events from certain states?
The increased language against LGBT discrimination here is the big piece of the updated bylaws though. Says Kirk Schulz, president of Kansas State University and chair of the Board of Governors,
“The higher education community is a diverse mix of people from different racial, ethnic, religious and sexual orientation backgrounds…So it is important that we assure that community – including our student-athletes and fans – will always enjoy the experience of competing and watching at NCAA championships without concerns of discrimination.”
The NCAA has implemented programs and initiatives to ensure respect and the elimination of discrimination across all schools and sports, but seeing support so plainly put here carries impact that tertiary programs do not always have the visibility to accomplish. There will be no delay on implementing these changes into the NCAA’s bid approval process, so North Carolina and Mississippi are under immediate pressure to change their ways or risk losing Duke the chance to host a regional round of the NCAA basketball tournament. Until the first school is actually held responsible for their state’s laws we won’t be able to tell how the revocation of events or any potential warning process will go. It is definitely a move in the right direction to begin holding schools responsible for their discriminatory or offensive decisions.