The NCAA Board of Governors on Wednesday took steps to protect participants and spectators from discrimination at NCAA events.
At its quarterly meeting in Indianapolis, the board adopted a new requirement for sites hosting or bidding on NCAA events in all divisions — from the Men’s and Women’s Final Fours to educational events such as leadership development conferences — to demonstrate how they will provide an environment that is safe, healthy, and free of discrimination, plus safeguards the dignity of everyone involved in the event.
The board’s decision integrates the new requirement into the bidding process for championships, adding it to information already required that outlines available access for people with disabilities and details on playing and practice facilities. The board directed the NCAA national office staff to finalize details related to the statement’s implementation; additional information will be made available as those processes are determined.
“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.”
The board’s decision follows the recent actions of legislatures in several states, which have passed laws allowing residents to refuse to provide services to some people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. While proponents of the laws focus on how they protect religious beliefs, critics have voiced concerns that they create an environment of sanctioned discrimination.
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.
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.
The new requirement integrates appropriate protections against discrimination into the championships bidding process. 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 new selection criteria, procedures and the status of currently awarded sites will be reported to the Board of Governors Ad Hoc Committee to Promote Cultural Diversity and Equity and full implementation is expected during the current bidding process.