The NCAA Board of Governors has adopted a new requirement for sites hosting or bidding on NCAA events in all divisions to demonstrate how they will provide an environment that is “safe, healthy and free of discrimination.” In addition to championships, the policy covers educational events such as leadership development conferences.
The board’s decision integrates the new requirement into the bidding process for championships, adding it to existing requirements that outline available access for people with disabilities and details on playing and practice facilities. The decision could have profound implications for destinations in several states whose legislatures are considering or have passed laws allowing residents to refuse services to some people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The NCAA is currently accepting bids for 83 of its 90 championships for academic years spanning 2018–2019 through 2021–2022. Bids for that cycle are open through August 12, 2016, although cities must declare their intent to bid by June 27.
“The higher education community is a diverse mix of people from different racial, ethnic, religious and sexual orientation backgrounds,” said Kirk Schulz, president of Kansas State University and chair of the Board of Governors. “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.”
According to the NCAA, “the board’s decision reaffirms the NCAA commitment to operate championships and events that promote an inclusive atmosphere in which student-athletes participate, coaches and administrators lead and fans engage. 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.”