Always outspoken, NBA superstar and commentator Charles Barkley says plainly that the Final Four should be moved out of Indiana.
“Discrimination in any form is unacceptable to me,” said Barkley in a statement to USA Today. “As long as anti-gay legislation exists in any state, I strongly believe big events such as the Final Four and Super Bowl should not be held in those states’ cities.”
When Arizona governor Jan Brewer was considering whether to sign one of these license to discriminate bills last year, the NFL suggested it might move the Super Bowl out of the state.
The big college basketball game is held every year in Indianapolis. And immediately after passing its license to discriminate law, Indiana has been questioned as the long-term home for March Madness. Among the first to speak up was Jason Collins, the first out man to play in the NBA who is now covering March Madness as a commentator for Yahoo Sports.
On Twitter, Collins asked Governor Mike Pence, "Is it going to be legal for someone to discriminate against me & others when we come to the #FinalFour?"
Pence refused to answer that basic question, of whether the law gives cover to those who want to discriminate, during an appearance on ABC's This Week.
The NCAA has said it is "concerned" by the law and will "closely examine the implications" when deciding where to hold future events.
"The NCAA national office and our members are deeply committed to providing an inclusive environment for all our events," said NCAA President Mark Emmert in a statement quickly after the law was signed. "We are especially concerned about how this legislation could affect our student-athletes and employees. We will work diligently to assure student-athletes competing in, and visitors attending, next week's Men's Final Four in Indianapolis are not impacted negatively by this bill. Moving forward, we intend to closely examine the implications of this bill and how it might affect future events as well as our workforce."
Elsewhere in Indiana basketball, both the NBA's Pacers and the WNBA's Fever issued a joint statement, emphasizing that inclusion is part of the game.
“The game of basketball is grounded in long established principles of inclusion and mutual respect," the statement read, issued along with their respective leagues. "We will continue to ensure that all fans, players and employees feel welcome at all NBA and WNBA events in Indiana and elsewhere.”
The two teams' owner, Herb Simon, assured fans they won't be discriminated against while attending games in Indiana.
“The Indiana Pacers, Indiana Fever and Bankers Life Fieldhouse have the strongest possible commitment to inclusion and non-discrimination on any basis," he said. "Everyone is always welcome at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. That has always been the policy from the very beginning of the Simon family’s involvement and it always will be.”