NCAA Announces Non-discrimination Requirement for Prospective Event Sites

By  - 

On Friday, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announced new anti-discriminatory requirements for cities hoping to host future NCAA events.

Cities interested in hosting future NCAA championships will be asked to specifically outline how they will protect participants and spectators from discrimination, according to a press release from the association. Each destination must complete a survey from the NCAA by Aug. 12 detailing any local anti-discrimination laws, provisions for refusal of services, and other facility-specific information.

The release of the questionnaire follows the NCAA Board of Governors’ April adoption of the new provision for host sites, which requires them to demonstrate how they will provide a safe and healthy environment that is free of discrimination and that safeguards the dignity of those involved in the event.

The board’s decision is in response to recent actions taken by legislatures in several states, which have passed laws allowing residents to refuse to provide services to people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as prohibiting people from using public restrooms that don’t correspond with the sex on their birth certificate. While proponents of such laws say they are meant to protect religious freedom, critics have voiced concerns that they create an environment of sanctioned discrimination.

The NCAA’s announcement came one day after the NBA made public its decision to move its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte, N.C., due to the state’s controversial transgender “bathroom law,” enacted in March. The law prevents cities and counties from passing protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and public schools must require that bathrooms and locker rooms be designated for use only by people based on their biological sex. While the law will likely cause problems for sites in North Carolina that wish to host an NCAA event, the questionnaire offers potential sites an open-ended opportunity to prove that their policies correspond with the NCAA’s new standards.

“We are committed to providing a championship experience within an inclusive environment for student-athletes, coaches, administrators, and fans,” said Mark Lewis, executive vice president for championships and alliances with the NCAA. “With the Board of Governors’ direction, we are taking steps to [ensure] that anyone associated with an NCAA championship event will be treated with fairness and respect.”

The board’s decision reaffirms the NCAA’s commitment to operate championships and other events that promote an inclusive atmosphere in which student-athletes participate, coaches and administrators lead, and fans engage.

Historically, the survey states, the NCAA has used the opportunity to host its events as a way to make clear its values. The association now prohibits championship events at predetermined sites in states where governments display the Confederate flag, and it prohibits NCAA member schools from hosting championship events if they use Native American imagery or nicknames that are considered abusive and offensive.

NCAA board members feel the measure will provide assurance that anyone associated with an NCAA championship event — whether they are working, playing, or cheering — will be treated with fairness and respect.

The committees for each of the 90 NCAA championships, which are comprised of representatives from NCAA schools, will use information collected from the questionnaires to ensure they award championships to cities that meet all hosting requirements.