Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act: Kevin Ollie and UConn Coaching Staff Join Indy BoycottBy Russell Westerholm
In light of Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), the UConn men's basketball coaching staff will not travel to Indianapolis of the Final Four.
According to NBC Connecticut, Kevin Ollie the reigning men's basketball champion coaching staff will honor a travel ban imposed on state employees. Ollie and his staff were set to attend the National Association of Basketball Coaches conference, which is traditionally held alongside the Final Four.
"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 President Susan Herbst said in a statement. "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."
Conn. Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) responded to the RFRA, which Ind. Gov. Mike Pence signed into law last week, by restricting state-funded travel to Indiana. The RFRA has received heavy criticism from all around for appearing to allow business owners the right to refuse service to homosexuals based on their religious beliefs.
Pence has since said that conclusion was the result of a "misunderstanding," resulting in him ordering a clarification to weed out any language that supported discrimination on any grounds. Still, many Indiana businesses and public figures have said the RFRA gave the state a black eye.
The NCAA, the Indianapolis-based governing body of collegiate athletics, as well as numerous college presidents in the state, have publicly expressed concern over the RFRA's language. Pat Haden, the athletic director at USC, said he would not be traveling to Indianapolis for a scheduled football meeting, citing his gay son as the reason for his protest.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) told NBC Conn. he agreed with UConn's decision, acknowledging he would do the same thing.
"I wouldn't presume to give advice but if I were in their shoes I would stay away," he said. "I think they can send a very powerful message as all of us can."