One of yesterday’s national news headlines read “UConn president tells coach Kevin Ollie he can’t travel to Indy meeting” and the story that followed the headline detailed how University of Connecticut (UConn) men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie and his staff will not travel to the NCAA basketball tournament’s Final Four in Indianapolis this week.
The reason for the Ollie decision is that Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy issued a formal executive order banning state-sponsored and state-funded travel to Indiana … due to new legislation signed into law by Indiana Governor Mike Pence last week, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which could potentially be used to discriminate against gay people. When he signed the order, Malloy stated, “The idea that somebody from Connecticut who complies with the law here can go to another state and be discriminated against is abhorrent, cannot be tolerated, and quite frankly, we can’t witness it without raising our voice.”
The Indiana law prohibits state and local governments from impeding a person or business’ ability to exercise their religious beliefs. Opponents of the law argue it could be abused discriminate against members of the LGBT community.
UConn President Susan Herbst in support of Governor Malloy’s travel ban, stated in her decision regarding Ollie’s travel, “In support of Governor Malloy’s travel ban to the state of Indiana, Kevin Ollie and other members of the UConn men’s basketball staff will not travel to Indianapolis for the NCAA Final Four and events surrounding it. UConn is a community that values all of our members and treats each person with the same degree of respect, regardless of their background and beliefs and we will not tolerate any other behavior.”
One of the many threads of this story is that the NCAA’s Women’s Final Four Championship is scheduled for Indianapolis in 2016 (it is in Tampa this year), and the UConn Women’s team has qualified for the Women’s Final Four for 8 consecutive years and 13 of the last 16 years. It is reasonable to predict that they will be going to Indianapolis in 12 months.
Another of the threads is that UConn’s Men’s team qualified for last year’s Final Four.
Imagine if we were to time shift events forward or backward one year, do you think Governor Malloy would follow Jimmy Carter’s example from the Moscow Olympic Games and forbid either the UConn Men’s or Women’s basketball teams from playing in Indianapolis this week?
Or, to add a little local flavor … imagine that this season’s UCD record setting Men’s basketball season had continued on into the NCAA Tournament and qualified for the Final Four, do you think Chancellor Katehi and Governor Brown would forbid the UCD team from playing in Indianapolis this week?